In the Face of Affliction: Living with HIV / AIDS
IN THE FACE OF AFFLICTION: Living with HIV/AIDS (2009)
In 2009, I set up a studio in different clinics and hospitals servicing people with HIV/AIDS 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.
I call this project IN THE FACE OF AFFLICTION as it 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.
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.