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South African activist photographer to visit MIT

Zanele Muholi, an award-winning South African photographer and video artist, will be on the MIT campus from Feb. 23 to March 10 as the 2009 Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence.

Muholi, who is noted for her evocative portraits of black lesbians and transgender people in South African townships, will present a public program on Feb. 25, teach a hands-on photography workshop, and meet with students and faculty.

Muholi says of her work, "My aim is not to make nice pictures but to crack open the issues." She received the 2005 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, which led to her photography exhibit and book, "Only Half the Picture." Her film, "Enraged by a Picture," which was screened at the Out in Africa gay and lesbian film festival in 2005, documents responses to her photography.

Muholi will present a program titled "Is'khathi" (which roughly translates from the Zulu as "period in time" or "time of the month") at 7 p.m., Feb. 25, in the Broad Institute auditorium. It is free and open to public.

Muholi will explore the idea of creating community through visual imagery in a photography workshop on two consecutive Fridays, Feb. 27 and March 6, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Cost is $20 students, $40 for MIT affiliates. Register through the Student Art Association website at

The Ida Ely Rubin Artists-in-Residence Fund was established in 1998 by MIT benefactor Margaret McDermott in honor of art historian, arts consultant and author Ida Ely Rubin, a founding member of MIT's Council for the Arts and former president of the Americas Foundation. The fund supports artist-in-residence programs in the visual arts at MIT.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 25, 2009 (download PDF).

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