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France Knights Zanele Muholi

The visual activist's "work has raised the subject of LGBTQI rights in South Africa and internationally. It shines a light where there is shadow".

21/11/2017 13:41 SAST | Updated 21/11/2017 14:14 SAST
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Come Wednesday, visual activist Zanele Muholi will become a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Loosely translated as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, it is a cultural recognition bestowed by the French government, and Muholi has been selected for her pioneering work in arts as well as in the LGBTQI community.

She will receive the Chevalier medallion during a ceremony that's set to take place at the French Embassy in Tshwane.

"It's an honour to bestow upon Muholi the distinction of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. France is proud to stand beside those who fight for the right to be free and equal," French ambassador Christophe Farnaud told HuffPost SA.

"Muholi's work has raised the subject of LGBTQI rights in South Africa and internationally. It shines a light where there is shadow, it creates a space where there was none," Farnaud said.

2017.10.22: Delaware, New York. @somnyamangonyama #workinprogress #art_race_gender_sexual_politics ... thankful to @ellenfoto0 and @thembeladick1 for their guidance. #mourning in the morning.

A post shared by Zanele Muholi (@muholizanele) on

Muholi, whose work was honoured this year at New York's Performa 17 -- the world's biggest, and arguably most important, art fair -- says the award is not just for her, but for the LGBTQI community as a whole.

"For me this award is more about what we are doing, and capable of doing, and how our work impacts on the people around the community," she said.

"This honour is not for me, it's for every other black LGBTQI, or any other person, who understands what it's like at this time to be us. It means more than a lot, and hopefully it paves the way for many who will follow us, and honours those who came way before us, and who never had an opportunity to be recognised."