Body-map. Babalwa, 2008.
Customised print commissioned by MAA from the original acrylic painting (2003)
Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. MAA 2008.22
A self-portrait by Babalwa, a woman from the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa. Babalwa is an HIV positive activist and a member of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). The TAC successfully campaigned for the availability of antiretroviral treatment therapies for people with HIV/AIDS. Currently, the TAC are campaigning for equal access to these drugs and for social security provision for people with HIV/AIDS.
Babalwa’s life-sized body-map traces the various ways in which she views her body, both the disease inside her and the impact it has on her relations with others.
It depicts a life of activism and epitomises the ethical and political negotiations that surround the ways that particular bodies are defined and treated. The posters, articles and symbols in the painting contribute to her bodily form and point to the personal fear, hope and happiness seen throughout her life.
One foot in her body-map is raised. According to Babalwa, this ‘... shows the strength that I have everyday to fight for my life and those who cannot fight for themselves’.