A Celebration of Life
March 7 - March 28, 2007
Body Maps began as part of the Memory Box Project, a small community outreach program initiated by the AIDS and Society Research Unit of the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Médecins Sans Frontières, in response to the growing number of South Africans living with HIV and AIDS. Though the project was originally meant to prepare people undergoing medical treatment for what seemed inevitable death, the The Bambanani Women’s Group, whose Body Maps make up this exhibition, found the process gave them a new determination to live.
Bambanani means “lending and sharing hands”. With the assistance of Cape Town artist Jane Soloman each created a life-size self-portrait on which they “mapped” the effects both physical and emotional of the virus on their bodies. Each Body Map is accompanied by a written testimonial. Many tell horrific stories in the most extraordinary, matter-of-fact voices – voices that both echo and enhance the courageously direct and profoundly unsettling self-portraits. Together they form a powerful image of the human cost this epidemic has wrought on the most vulnerable of the world’s populations. They remind us too, how HIV AIDS respects no barriers. In the images of Cordelia, Maria, Nomonde and others in the group, we see their unborn children already infected with the disease.
Ultimately this is a story of individuals helping each other and in turn receiving help from a truly global community that branches across oceans while nurturing roots in local villages. It is very much a celebration of life in the face of devastating circumstances, and an invitation for all of us to get involved.
The fourteen original Body Maps are in the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. The pieces in this exhibition are digital prints of the originals, produced by David Krut Projects, USA for exhibitions designed to raise awareness of the HIV pandemic in South Africa. The Body Maps come to Kingsborough at the end of a national tour that included the Flaten Art Museum in Northfield, MN; the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA; the Kniznick Gallery at the Women's Studies Research Center of Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; the Sycamore Place Gallery, Decatur, GA; and the African American Cultural Center at North Carolina Sate University, Raleigh, NC.
Body Maps were first exhibited by David Krut Projects, New York in 2003, at the "Identity Document" exhibition, hosted by the Clockwork Gallery, and in the UNCTAD wing of the United Nations the following year.
(all are digital prints on canvas measuring 72" x 38")