A figure of a human face inscribed with “STDs, defilement, fear, irresponsibility, sexual infection” can be viewed through a split lid used for viewing the deceased in a casket that sits at the National Museum Art gallery.
This is one of the works used by artists to bring attention to the HIV problem.
On top of the crafted coffin, a picture of a flower made out of condoms sits decoratively.
A crafted artwork, titled “Infinite Silent Moment”, was, according to the artist, Ivy Radipodi, made out of wood, metal and leather.
The Museum’s Senior Curator, Dimpho Tumisang, explains that the artist was trying to show that such behaviors and illness could lead to HIV deaths.
“The artists came with their own ideas after they were invited to participate in an annual exhibition, dubbed Nna le Seabe HIV/AIDs awareness.
The exhibition, spearheaded by the Arts and Culture Department was meant to encourage artists to use their talents to fight HIV/AIDs. The theme for the exhibition was ‘Getting zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero Aids related deaths.
“Visual artists can contribute to the fight,” said Tumisang.
He noted that a flower made out of condoms is an artist’s indication that condoms can be used to deter new HIV infections.
A painting by Mopaki Kotsi shows two hands pulling a broken chain in different directions with HIV/AIDs emblem stuck underneath. The curator said that the artist’s message is clear.
Tumisang jumped in to state that the painting was derived from O Icheke ‘Break the Chain’ Campaign. The O Icheke campaign was launched in 2009 and developed under the auspices of the National Prevention Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in Botswana.
The national behavior change communication campaign specifically focused on multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP) and addresses factors that contribute to MCP. The goal of the campaign was meant to reduce HIV infections, particularly new infections and to also further reduce the number of those who practice MCP.
The campaign seems to have failed on its intended purposes. Lately, the World Bank representative in the country was worried that the culture of MCP was a concern despite massive campaigns and the provision of free medications.
There is also another of his paintings, dubbed, “BA DIJA BA IPHITHA”. (Ba dija ba iphitha is, literally translated, ‘as they eat them while hiding’).
The paintings show people, such as executives, street kids, Rastafarians and others extending their hands towards a bowl written ARV’s.
Tumisang said the artist wants to show the world that in Botswana people who are taking ARVs are unable to come out freely and announce that they are taking ARVs.
He further noted that the artist was trying to portray how Batswana from different walks of life keep it a secret when they have enrolled on the ARV programme.
He, however, admitted that the artist’s impression was true. He could not dispute that keeping it a secret could put other peoples in dangers.
“Imagine if someone is not coming out openly to his/her partners. There are possibilities that new infections could take place,“ he explained.
He felt that those who are enrolling on ARVs should come out of the cocoon to save many people’s lives. Another painting by Tshepho Salobati, dubbed “The scale of thoughts”, shows an elderly woman and young girl sitting at both sides of the Weighing Scale.
Though it is not possible that the weighing scale could balance the two, the artists drew it in a way that shows that it was balancing.
The artist wrote “Zero Discrimination” underneath the picture.
According to Tumisang, the picture is trying to discourage discrimination among people living with HIV /AIDs. He hoped that such paintings were important in addressing issues related to HIV and AIDs.
Tholego Radikonyana’s painting shows a man canoeing with a condom. The curator explained that the artist’s work clearly indicates that people should use condoms. He said that the artist was trying to show people that there are different modes of transport that people can use.
Tumisang noted that Radikonyana is encouraging Batswana to use always use condoms whenever they travel around the country. He also stated that the artist is trying to encourage people to use condoms to avoid new infections.
Tshepho Salobati’s piece, titled ‘New World to Zero Infection’, shows a word map enclosed in a condom. The curator explains that the artist was encouraging the world to rely on condoms as an alternative way of preventing new infections.