She-Flesh-Spirit

It is dangerous to be a woman in Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is dangerous to be a woman in South Africa. The exhibition is about the denigration and celebration of women’s bodies. It is about women’s health and well being. I am fascinated by the interconnection of body, mind and spirit. Augustine wrote: “The soul makes war with the body. Eckhardt wrote: “The soul loves the body.”

The work reflects my experience as a HIV/AIDS counsellor with Life Line and the influence of their Gender Wellness programme at Ukuba Nesibindi Centre in Warwick Junction. Another NGO situated in Durban, Create Africa South, has a Sexual Rights Course titled Know Your Body/Wazi Umzimba Wakho. It has also greatly inspired this work. 

The female condom is potentially revolutionary, but sadly overlooked as a woman controlled barrier method in HIV/STD prevention and family planning. In this exhibition it is a powerful symbol of women’s choices. Its cocoon-like shape is also suggestive of women’s psychic need for retreat, incubation, metamorphosis and re-emergence.

The herbs illustrated and embedded in the artworks represent a role played by traditional medicine in women’s health. Eighty percent of Africa’s population must rely on traditional medicine to meet their primary health care needs and it is crucial in the fight against infectious diseases.

Jung spoke about our need to recognise the mysterious truth that the body is the outer manifestation of the living spirit. A “belief in the body cannot tolerate an outlook that denies the body in the name of the spirit”. So the exhibition celebrates the love the soul has for the body.