The Sunday Independent

EXHIBITION­S LIFT LID ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

- LUKE FOLB What I am, I am Enough is Enough Still Figuring Out What It Means to be a Man,

ONE IN four women is in an abusive relationsh­ip in South Africa, and every six days a woman is murdered by her partner. Every 25 seconds, a woman or girl is raped.

Shocking statistics have led to gender-based movements hitting mainstream discussion­s, not only in South Africa, but across the globe.

A new exhibition this month aims to strike back against gender-based violence. The Iziko Slave Lodge in the Company’s Garden in Cape Town has curated three exhibits to form their Gender Exhibition aimed at creating awareness around genderbase­d and sexual violence, challengin­g stigmas related to sex work and confrontin­g hegemonic ideals of masculinit­y.

The exhibition­s are being held in collaborat­ion with 1000 Women’s Trust, the Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Antonia Porter and Giovanna del Santo.

It was coincidenc­e that Iziko was approached at the same time to host all three exhibits and found it appropriat­e to launch them in April to coincide with Freedom Month. The first is an exhibition

which explores the legalisati­on of sex workers and the history of the Slave Lodge as an unofficial “slave brothel”.

The lodge’s location and history make it a prominent point of discussion for the lived experience­s of sex workers in Cape Town today.

Sex workers who took part in the exhibition form part of a feminist collective at SWEAT and were taught how to document their lives by photograph­er Irene Grobbelaar-Lenoble and writer Amy Kaye.

Once they had the skills, they went into their communitie­s to take pictures and write their stories. They became the subject of the work itself.

Gavin Jacobs, a gay male sex worker and one of the subjects, said hese stories were “straight from the horse’s mouth” and formed part of the campaign to decriminal­ise sex work.

“It’s about getting over those stigmatise­d norms and also shows that I, as a male, can also be a feminist and contribute to positive change. We’re breaking the patriarcha­l structures and it’s great that these three (exhibition­s) just overlapped,” he said.

focuses on the individual stories of women who have faced abuse and violence through the 1000 Women 1 Voice campaign.

The project was borne out of the writing project, “Every Scar Tells A Story”, which ran during last year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.

The exhibition invites people to get to grips with the statistics and challenges facing them to say “enough is enough”.

The final exhibition in the trio,

is a multimedia project conceptual­ised after an increase in gender-based and sexual violence perpetrate­d by men.

It explores the experience­s of six middle-class men in their 20s and 30s who are asked to answer how they see themselves against society.

Overall, the exhibition considers what manhood and masculinit­y mean in a contempora­ry South African setting.

Curt Syster, who took part in the project, emphasised the importance of men acting as role models for other men to break the culture.

“It speaks for itself. There are beautiful pictures and stories. The problem a lot of the time is men and also the solution can be men. We need to be good, and strong masculine figures, and not in the old sense, but be an aspiration­al figure for other men,” said Syster.

 ?? PICTURE: NIGEL PAMPLIN ?? ‘I am What I am’, an exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, aims to create awareness around the stigma related to sex work through the experience­s of sex workers.
PICTURE: NIGEL PAMPLIN ‘I am What I am’, an exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, aims to create awareness around the stigma related to sex work through the experience­s of sex workers.

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