EXHIBITIONS LIFT LID ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
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.
‘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.