Market Photo Workshop alumnus Zanele Muholi knighted by France

The Market Theatre Foundation congratulates Zanele Muholi for being honored with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Arts & Literature) Award conferred on her by Ambassador of France, Mr Christophe Fernaud yesterday. 

Zanele studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. Since graduating from the Market Photo Workshop, Zanele Muholi has built a formidable career as an internationally acclaimed visual artist, activist and photographer. She was the first Black artist to have a solo show at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She was featured at the seventh edition of the Performa Biennial in locations throughout New York City.

Zanele co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (, a forum for queer and visual (activist) media. Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is “to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond”. She continues to train and co-facilitates photography workshops for young women in the townships.

“Zanele’s works serves as an inspiration for social justice movements and hope for young and emerging photographers from communities that society has pushed to the margins”, says Lekgetho Makola, the Head of the Market Photo Workshop.

Zanele Muholi opened her exhibition Faces and Phases at the Market Photo Workshop Gallery on Friday 17 November. The exhibition runs until 18 February 2018. This is the only project in Africa of its kind and it celebrates the 11th anniversary of Muholi’s acclaimed portrait series documenting Black lesbian and transgender individuals from South Africa and beyond.

“The Market Theatre Foundation is significantly proud of Zanele Muholi’s achievement and the recognition given to her by the French government. The international icon is a dynamic ambassador for the values and ethos of the Market Theatre Foundation; and in particular the Market Photo Workshop”, says Ismail Mahomed, CEO of the Market Theatre Foundation.

The French government distinction Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature) is conferred on “persons who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of arts in France and throughout the world.” Some noted South African recipients of this honour who have connections and lifelong ties with the Market Theatre include William Kentridge, Mannie Manim, Mandie van der Spuy, Gregory Maqoma, Esther Mahlangu and the Market Theatre Foundation’s CEO, Ismail Mahomed.

“This achievement gives much needed integrity to our society in these challenging times of the South African democracy. The recognition awarded to Zanele Muholi will inspire other young South Africa artists in Zanele’s age group who are also pushing the boundaries of artistic expressions in all forms and purpose, gaining overwhelming attention and a strong following across the globe”, adds Lekgetho Makola.

For further information and interviews please contact:

Lusanda Zokufa – Senior Publicist Market Theatre Foundation
011 832 1641 ext 202 or 072 367 7867