26 October - 3 December 2005
Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Churchill Madikida exploring the theme of HIV/Aids through new video works and installations. Recently named the Standard Bank Young Artist for 2006, Madikida has held two previous solo shows: at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2003 and at Michael Stevenson in May 2004.
Madikida chose to focus on HIV/Aids both in solidarity with the national campaign to intensify awareness of the disease and as a personal response to tragedy. He writes: "I have watched the annihilation from the sidelines but I have just had a close encounter with the effects of the virus myself. My sister lived with HIV for more than nine years and passed away recently (in April 2005); we were very close to each other. Her death made me realise the extent of the despair that the virus is causing to millions of people both infected and affected by it. This exhibition is about my personal journey but reflects on millions of other people's experiences as well."
The word "status" is commonly used to indicate people's position in society; it is also used to denote whether or not someone is HIV positive. In choosing it as the title of his exhibition, Madikida plays on this ambiguity to point out that "the deadly virus does not care about class, and transcends boundaries such as gender, race and sexuality".
Madikida will present two video projections: Virus, which alludes to the spread of HIV within the body and throughout communities; and Nemesis, which reflects on the horror of child abuse motivated by the belief that the rape of a virgin or infant provides a cure for AIDS.
For one of his installations, Madikida has made casts from the faces of people with HIV/Aids, including his sister. He describes this work as a "celebration and memorialisation of life; it is about continuity rather than death. Unfortunately a number of these people have since died. Science and health organisations seem to hide behind statistics - this work is about bringing the reality of the people behind the numbers closer to the viewer."
The other installation consists of three shrines that resemble caskets. Madikida says, "One is dedicated to my sister; the second is a small coffin dedicated to all the infants and children who have died because of the virus, and the third can be dedicated to anyone who is infected with the virus. Visitors will be able to light candles as a gesture of mourning as well as hope for the future."
Madikida believes his work can play a role in breaking the silence about the pandemic and creating a climate of greater tolerance. "Art played a critical role in the fight against apartheid and I feel that it can play an even bigger role in the war against HIV/AIDS," he says.
Madikida was born in 1973 in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape. He lives in Johannesburg and was until recently Collections Curator at Constitution Hill. He has participated in group exhibitions including Personal Affects: Power and poetics in contemporary South African art at the Museum for African Art and the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York, 2004, and was the joint winner of the 2003 Tollman Award.
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