Zanele Muholi, Vile, Gotenburg, Sweden, 2016.

COURTESY THE ARTIST AND YANCEY RICHARDSON GALLERY, NEW YORK

France has named the South African photographer Zanele Muholi a chevalier of its Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, a prestigious award that recognizes important people in the arts who have contributed to French culture.

Muholi is known for black-and-white images of LGBTQI Africans, some of whom figure in photographs currently on view in a solo exhibition at New York’s Yancey Richardson Gallery. She considers her work a form of visual activism, in the sense that it brings light to marginalized communities. Her work also recently appeared at the Performa 17 biennial, for which Muholi hosted a series of conversations with LGBTQI communities around New York.

Other South Africans who have been awarded the same designation include the photographer David Goldblatt and the dancer Gregory Maqoma. Film critic Dave Kehr, writer Zeruya Shalev, and author Philipp Meyer have also been named chevaliers of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in the past year.