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Good Health: Impilo Engcono 27 March – 1 May 2013

ISBN 978-0-620-56063-4

9 780620 560634

Good Health: Impilo Engcono 27 March – 1 May 2013

Good Health: Impilo Engcono 27 March – 1 May 2013 BRUNDYN + GONSALVES, Cape Town Published as part of the Art in Global Health project CURATOR: Amanda Botha EDITOR: Fiona Mauchan DESIGN: James William King PRI NTI NG: Hansa Print ISBN: 978-0-620-56063-4 SPECI AL TH AN K S T O : Marie-Louise Newell, John Imrie, Mduduzi Mahlinza, Lungani Ndwandwe, Tulio de Oliveira, Sonja Andrews and Suzette Grobler of Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies Sian Aggett of the Wellcome Trust Danielle Olsen, Independent curator Mike Ormrod of ORMS Romi Jacobs of Nikon SA Jack Shainman Gallery BRUNDYN + GONSALVES KEY COM M U N ITY PART IC IPANT S: M.Q. Mkhwanazi of the Royal Mkhwanazi family M.S. Gina of Mtubatuba Taxi Association L.T. Mncwango, Alan Williamson and Senzo Mahlinza of Umfolozi Sugar Mill Richard Ngwenya of Somkhele Coal Mine and J.S. Mngomezulu of Godloza High School ©2013 TEXT: Amanda Botha, Danielle Olsen and Astrid Treffry-Goatley ©2013 PHOTOG R A P H Y: Zwelethu Mthethwa, Mpumelelo Mkhwanazi, Khumalo Sinethemba, Sizwe Magcaba, Siboniso Bhekumusa Sibiya, Sanele Mbokazi, Nothando Sabela, Sebenzile Nkwanyana, Thabile Portia Mnyeni, and Lungani Ndwandwe COVER I M AGE: Zwelethu Mthethwa, 2012 For more information please contact the local project coordinator: Dr. Astrid Treffry-Goatley, Africa Centre for Health and Populations Studies, P.O Box 198, Mtubatuba, 3935, t el +27 (0) 35 550 7500 ema il BRUNDYN + GONSALVES 71 Loop Street, Cape Town 8001 tel +27 (0) 21 424 5150 email website

‘Art in Global Health’, initiated by Wellcome Collection and curated by Danielle Olsen, set up six artist residencies in six medical research centres around the world – in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam. Each residency gave artists a wide brief: to find out about the research being undertaken; to interact with scientists, team members from other disciplines and with involved communities; and to produce work in response to the processes of research and discovery they observed. Zwelethu Mthethwa was in residence at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Supported by:


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Foreword Art in Global Health Africa Centre

20 22 22

Zwelethu Mthethwa Biography Selection of Images Dignity and beauty: to dwell on the positive Part One Part Two Part Three

30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Participants Mpumelelo Mkhwanazi Khumalo Sinethemba Sizwe Magcaba Siboniso Bhekumusa Sibiya Sanele Mbokazi Nothando Sabela Sebenzile Nkwanyana Thabile Portia Mnyeni Lungani Ndwandwe

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A R T iN GlO b Al H E A lTH ‘Global health’ is a phrase we hear more and more frequently. As it attracts more attention it attracts more investment and more research. But what does it mean? Can health really be ‘global’? To the extent that some diseases are tied to geography, no. But the challenges facing researchers, doctors, families, politicians and individuals who deal with disease often have a great deal in common, wherever they are in the world. ‘Art in Global Health’ has set up six artist residencies in six Wellcome Trust-funded research centres as a way of teasing out some of the more personal, philosophical, cultural and political dimensions of health research. This exciting project is born out of Wellcome Collection’s desire to engage the curious public globally with the health research that the Trust funds – in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK. ‘Art in Global Health’ residencies lasted for six months, with artists given a wide brief: to find out about the research being undertaken, to interact with scientists and team members from other disciplines (anthropologists, ethicists, economists, educators and so on) and to produce work in response to the processes of research and discovery they observed. Outcomes of the residencies – exhibitions, performances and supporting events – began in the last quarter of 2012 and continued into early 2013. Each investigative journey and its outcomes have been documented online (; helping to illuminate the scientific processes and the web of relationships upon which those processes depend.

A F RiC A CE N T R E , JA N uA Ry 20 1 3


Africa Centre is a Wellcome Trust-funded international research facility in Somkhele, 230 kilometres north of Durban, which aims to conduct population-based health research in a rural area. The research setting combines rural and peri-rural areas among a poor community with a large burden of HIV. Since its establishment in 1997, the Centre has grown from a small group of scientists and support staff into a hub of research excellence that employs over 400 people, the majority of whom are local. Since 2004, Africa Centre has been affiliated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal with the Centre’s laboratory facilities being located at the University’s Nelson R Mandela Medical School in Durban. The Centre’s long-term aim, preventing HIV transmission, has called for a deep understanding of the dynamics of the HIV epidemic – something large population-based longitudinal studies are uniquely able to provide. Therefore, a socio-demographic household surveillance was started in 2000, augmented in 2003 with an annual HIV and Health surveillance among resident adults. The surveillance includes 12 000 households in a 435 square kilometre area, with about 90 000 household members. Births, deaths, family composition, economic circumstances and health are monitored, and key social and health changes examined. Over the past six years Africa Centre’s work has generated insight into the HIV epidemic and the impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART). The Centre’s success to date has been based on its excellent relationship with the local community and other local stakeholders, whose support and engagement is essential to its work. Africa Centre has a dedicated Community Engagement Office that works closely with the local community through a comprehensive, multifaceted engagement programme. Importantly, the Centre

7 both contributes to and helps to shape the delivery of healthcare, particularly HIV treatment and care, and gathers data on other infectious diseases such as TB and the ‘hidden epidemic’ of noncommunicable disease. The goal is to exploit the Centre’s unique platform for research, as well as our accumulated knowledge and multidisciplinary expertise, to drive forward a programme of work that makes a significant difference to people’s lives, locally, nationally and regionally.

Zw e l e th u M t het hwa


R es i d e n t A R t i st, Af R ic A c e n t Re b iO G R A p H y Zwelethu Mthethwa (born in Durban in 1960) is a South African painter and photographer. He is known for his stunning portraits that powerfully framed black South Africans as dignified and defiant, even under the duress of social and economic hardship. Working in urban and rural industrial landscapes, Mthethwa documents a range of aspects in South Africa – from domestic life and the environment to landscape and labour issues. His work challenges the conventions of both Western documentary work and African commercial studio photography, marking a transition away from the visually exotic and diseased - and employing a fresh approach marked by colour and collaboration. He is best known for his large-format colour photographs, but also works in paint and pastel. He is interested in work that raises diverse questions and in the portrayal of things that he finds beautiful. Zwelethu Mthethwa received his BFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town – a then “whites-only” university; he entered under special ministerial consent in 1989, he earned a master’s degree in Imaging Arts while on a Fulbright Scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. Mthethwa has had numerous international solo exhibitions in the United States – including the highly-acclaimed Inner Views at Studio Museum in Harlem, 2010 – France, Britain, Germany, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland. Mthethwa has also been featured in numerous prominent group exhibitions, including the 2005 Venice Biennial, Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, New York, 2006; Prospect 1, New Orleans, 2008; and Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, which toured internationally.

a se le ction o f i mag es

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2013 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Dign ity an D beaut y to D w e l l on the posit ive


ARtist Zwelethu MthethwA in conveRsAtion with cuRAtoR AMAndA BothA pA RT O N E : C A p T u R iN G A C OMMuNiTy ab: How did you approach your residency at the Africa Centre? zm: Good Health was my theme. Africa Centre is a scientific centre. They don’t deal with art per se. I didn’t know how I would fit in or how flexible they would be. I was persuaded to come on board with a project that I felt would suit the Africa Centre. I was walked through what they do - dealing with science, numbers, data, research on HIV/ AIDS and TB. All this is kind of abstract not only to me, but to the people that live around Africa Centre. Those who probably read their journals who are not scientists. Scientists have their own language. I thought with my expertise, I’ve got to leave something behind that is meaningful to the community. I thought I could do a workshop for the local young adults. I did a photography workshop and said to my students, OK, let’s look at the meaning of good health, because all of this [the work at Africa Centre] is about good health. So I said, each and every one of you, here are the cameras, go to your local communities, to your families, to your friends and try to capture what you understand is good health. I wanted to hear it from the local people, people that are not scientists. ab: In a community where HIV/AIDS, TB and other diseases are prevalent, you challenge your students to define good health as a statement of positivity. zm: I wanted them to define good health in their own eyes, in their own words. I also decided to go to various communities to try and capture


Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

22 who they are. They talk about figures in the Africa Centre, I wanted to put faces to these figures. They talk about TB and HIV/AIDS, but you know there is a sugar mill there. I don’t know how healthy the air around the sugar mill is ... I don’t know how healthy the air around these mines is and there’s a shortage of water. I don’t know the quality of the water that the people get from the ponds. So I started to do my forensic research in capturing these images that could be transcribed or translated into various meanings. I went to the sugar mill. I’m interested in the relationship between the man and the machine. I went to the taxi drivers. I’m interested in how the taxi industry fits into the community because they are its nerve centre. They transport people everywhere. I went to the little ponds where people draw water. In those ponds, people wash their cars, their clothes, and they draw water for drinking ... it’s a nucleus of the community. I drove to clinics to observe the distances that people have to travel or walk. I visited people that are sick. I spoke to caregivers. I followed the researchers taking blood-samples and asking information from the local people and I recorded that as well. I looked at what people do to uplift their souls ... spiritually. I looked at how they feed their souls ... when it comes to religion. I followed sangomas. I followed people that sell muti at the markets. I went to some people who belong to the Zionist Christian Church. All those aspects of the community, I tried to capture, to give a full composition account of what makes the community tick, of what comprise the different elements that make up the composition.


pA R T T WO : H O pE A N D b E AuTy

ab: So you took your camera to try to capture the soul and fibre of the whole community. Your intent was to put faces to figures. This community which is impaired by illnesses is the same community which – in your view - lives with hope. zm: Exactly. I remember the first photograph I took. I went to the cemetery and we interviewed the two people who were working there. Cemeteries have got their own souls; words can’t really describe what the cemetery looks like. I wanted people to physically see the cemetery. ab: You also wanted to say that the conditions under which people work in this rural community are partially responsible for the illness within it. zm: Yes, of course. We can’t run away from that. We can try to be politically correct but the water there is not healthy, most people are unemployed, so it means that they have no decent food. When you look at the pictures you can tell that they are lacking. ab: So, in a sense, there is also a kind of activism within the pictures. Is that in itself a plea for political redress? zm: I am not a politician. The pictures define the community’s needs, but it is also a community that is aesthetically beautiful. The beauty comes with hope. I really don’t dwell on the negative side. I try to find positivity. Like my visit to the coalmine. What really motivated or uplifted me was the fact that there were a lot of women employed to drive heavy machines. As an outsider, I was in awe of that. I thought, ‘wow, the people that are controlling the mine, at least they are uplifting the women!’ ab: You are also looking at these people who are, as you say, numbers without faces. To photograph members of the community is a form of recognition. It gives them an identity and with it dignity.


Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

Zwelethu Mthethwa Untitled 2012 Chromogenic print 178 x 229 cm

25 zm: Exactly. There is this young lady that I photographed who has TB. She is young and very beautiful. Next to her in the photograph is her medication. When you look at that beautiful picture you understand that the TB plague doesn’t happen to specific people. No, it removes the stigma and alters our thinking that TB only happens to people that are old or are dirty. The fact is anybody can get TB. ab: With reference to the presence of HIV/AIDS, your photographs indicate that people who have been diagnosed have meaningful lives, which portray hope. zm: When we photographed at the cemetery, they told us the ridiculous number of funerals they used to have over a weekend. According to the workers the funerals have been cut by probably 90%. That means that whatever the people are taking or what the Centre is doing, works. ab: So in a sense those photographs are also documenting the fact that if you have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, there is hope, you can live with it and still make a meaningful contribution. zm: Exactly. ab: In what you portray, is it also an attempt to redress the stigmas associated with illness? It reflects instead the inner spirit of the human being? zm: Yes. My photographs don’t focus on people dying. I love to look at beautiful people. I love showing the positive because I want you, as a viewer, to have hope when you look at them. I don’t want you to feel sorrow or pity, because people are very, very strong. That’s what I would like people to experience when they look at the photographs.

pA R T T H R E E : TH E STu D E N TS


ab: What was your approach to your students? You left it to them to do their research and select their own images interpreting the concept of good health in the community. zm: We first defined in very abstract terms what is ‘good health’ and then they were given cameras to go and do further research on the description that we gave in class. They came back and presented their work and I gave them a critique. We all sat around looking at each other’s images and offering a critique. We had to select the best, maybe three or four images per person. It was a process where the students had to go out, take photographs, come back and then we looked at composition, at the meaning of the photograph, and at different techniques, so it was a full-on photographic workshop. ab: The students had never previously handled a camera. zm: No, they had never been to a photography class. Now some of the students are going back to their local communities to record whatever they want to, and they will get paid for that. So we have created an industry for them, where they could be compensated for what they do. ab: At the exhibition of photographs which resulted from your residency and the workshop, you are inviting the viewer to embrace the concept of good health and hope that it had offered this community. zm: Don’t focus on where these photographers come from, but look at the product emanating from students because they are very, very strong. They have a voice and they are really gorgeous photographs, very eloquent in the way that they have captured the feeling of good health. ab: Do you feel that you have achieved your goal with this project? zm: Yes, there are two primary goals for this the project. One is to uplift the young adults in the community and teach them photography


Sebenzile Nkwanyana 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Nothando Sabela 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

28 skills to a level where they can be translated into money. Two, my part is to give a personal look at the different facets of the community that we can knit together. Now, when you look at the photographs, you can tell what the community comprises of. We look at the different cultural rituals, where people work; at the lack of commodities in the community, the lack of infrastructure, like running water and the distance that people incur to go to clinics. We are looking at all those facets. I went to schools because students are the young members of the community. You can’t leave students out of this. Yes, I feel I have achieved my goals.


w o r k s h o p De tails

Mthethwa facilitated a three-day workshop at the Africa Centre in June 2012 to train artistically talented youth from the local community in the art of photography. This exhibition and accompanying catalogue are the results of this workshop. Workshop participation was limited to 10 participants with each student receiving a digital camera - courtesy of the Wellcome Trust, ORMs and Nikon - to further encourage empowerment and sustainability. Registration was free but students were asked to provide a motivation for their selection and show artistic qualities in photography or painting with a desire for learning. The workshop provided training in the use of digital photography in art and consisted of critiques focusing on composition, aesthetics and the social political reading of an image.

WOR kS H O p pA R T i CipA NTS


The exhibition showcases the work of nine youth from the Africa Centre’s local community including eight workshop participants and Lungani Ndwandwe, assistant to Mthethwa.

Mpumelelo Mkhwanazi 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Mpumelelo Mkhwanazi (26), Mtubatuba-Nomathiya Photography is exploring, seeing and capturing life through the lens. It is learning to command, negotiate and communicate with your subject, just to get the perfect picture I want. I am also able to capture each motion with just a click of my camera.


Khumalo Sinethemba 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Khumalo Sinethemba (21), KwaMsane Township Photography means the world to me because I now know how to take photos using my camera.


Sizwe Magcaba 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Sizwe Magcaba (18), KwaMsane Township Photography means a lot to me: I now see photography as a business. I would like to be a professional photographer as it is something that could help me.


Siboniso Bhekumusa Sibiya 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Siboniso Bhekumusa Sibiya (26), KwaMsane Township Photography means business to me because I’ve been invited to church to take photos as well as at weddings and I’ve seen the benefits.


Sanele Mbokazi 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Sanele Mbokazi (20), Kwamsane Township Photography means a lot to me; somehow it has become part of my life. I am able to reveal a certain message through photography, so I really love it.


Nothando Sabela 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Nothando Sabela (22), Mtubatuba Photography reflects life; it is a contemporary medium of expression and storytelling.


Sebenzile Nkwanyana 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Sebenzile Nkwanyana (23), Nkombose, Mtubatuba Photography means taking or capturing a moment using a camera. It has been a great experience for me since I was not exposed to it before. I have learned more in taking pictures, especially light.


Thabile Portia Mnyeni 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm

Thabile Portia Mnyeni (23), Mtubatuba Photography has opened a new page for me in art, it has shown me a new form of art, and this I feel has expanded my knowledge and experience in art.


Lungani Ndwandwe 2012 Ink Jet Print 30 x 40 cm Lungani Ndwandwe (25), Kwamsane Township Photography to me is a state of mind, what defines my state of mind at a particular moment. It is a series of themes, a form of storytelling, shining light on the non-obvious. Photography like all forms of art is an expression; a way one can understand me and my dark and good thoughts. Working with Zwelethu Mthethwa has been a life-changing experience for me since it has introduced me to the art of photography and has given me the opportunity to work alongside a true master. This project has empowered me with new skills and has given me a new lease on life. Being included in this exhibition and published catalogue has consolidated this experience and sense of personal growth.

Good Health: Impilo Engcono 27 March – 1 May 2013

ISBN 978-0-620-56063-4

9 780620 560634


Impilo Engcono: Good Health  

Impilo Engcono results from a three day workshop undertaken by Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Africa Centre in rural KwaZulu Natal in June 2012. D...

Impilo Engcono: Good Health  

Impilo Engcono results from a three day workshop undertaken by Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Africa Centre in rural KwaZulu Natal in June 2012. D...