In the face of afflication
IN THE FACE OF AFFLICTION is a visual study of people living with HIV/AIDS - mothers and their children, fathers and their children, brothers and sisters, grandparents, men, women and children, individually and together - each a life facing an early death. Collectively, these portraits present to the world a mosaic of dignity and courage. It is my hope that these portraits will challenge and change viewer perceptions as they did mine.
As nearly 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, this pandemic has affected every one of us. We are touched by this disease, either through people we know or the impact HIV/AIDS has had on our world.
I set up a studio in different clinics and hospitals in and around Cape Town, South Africa. I asked each of the participants at these clinics to convey through physical gestures how he or she would fight, communicate love, and express the sadness that surrounds the stigma of HIV/AIDS.
The people I photographed freely discussed their fear of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. What I saw, overall, was extraordinary courage and acceptance, a calmness and an uncomplaining understanding of the impact and effects of HIV/AIDS on themselves and on their loved ones. However, there was in each person I photographed, the added dimension of survival, the willingness to fight for their lives and the lives of their children.
As for me, photographing these young children with their families, or the individuals themselves, was one of the most difficult emotional experiences of my life. I walked away outraged and very sad.
I considered their fate and how with early response, combined proper medical care and education, these children could have been born free of HIV. Nevertheless, here we are with millions of people aware that they are going to die before their time. These photographs deal with their reality and how they confront their destinies IN THE FACE OF AFFLICTION.