August 23rd, 2013

Fine-Art Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa Faces Murder Trial August 26

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa, the South African fine-art photographer, will go on trial on Monday, charged with murdering a woman on a street in a suburb of Cape Town, according to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Mthethwa was arrested May 5, accused of beating and kicking Noku­phila Kumalo to death. Die Burger, an Afrikaans-language newspaper, reported in June that a man identified as Mthethwa had been caught on closed circuit television on April 13 getting out of his car and repeatedly hitting Kumalo, then kicking her after she fell to the ground.

Mthethwa has denied the charge. He was released on bail following his arrest.

When contacted by PDN, Mthethwa’s US dealer, Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, would not comment on the case.

In an interview with a South African paper in June, Mark Read, director of the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, which represents Mthethwa, said that when he spoke to the artist, he “was keen to say that it will all be sorted out.”

A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Mthethwa has widely exhibited his portraits of black residents of South Africa, including migrant workers, miners and cane farmers. His work was included in the 2005 Venice Biennale, and his first monograph was published by Aperture in 2010, the year a solo exhibition of his work was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In a 2010 interview with PDN, Mthethwa said that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.”

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