Half a Man? Still a Human
Centre for African Studies Gallery, UCT
I was approached by Helenard Louw to help curate and produce and exhibition which formed part of his Master’s thesis in Gender and much more. Half a Man? Still a Human is a photo-story exhibition curated by Helenard Louw & Daniel Rautenbach at the Centre for African Studies Gallery at the University of Cape Town. This work is part of Helenard’s Master’s research project that explores the narratives on the impact of a spinal cord injury on fifteen coloured men living with paraplegia. These men were asked to photograph the ways in which they think society sees them, and the ways in which they see themselves. They created photo-stories by explaining the significance of the photographs that they captured.
Through their photo-stories, they depict their interpretation of how society sees and understands disability, as well as how they would like to be accepted and understood. They represent themselves in ways that may resist stigmatizing representations and challenge prevailing discourses on people with disabilities. Ultimately, their photo-stories contribute towards creating a more nuanced understanding of what it means to live with paraplegia in a marginalized, lower to middle class, coloured community.
The title, Half a man? Still a Human, was inspired by one of the men who participated in the study. People in his community often call him, “die halwe man” – “the half man”, because half of his body is paralyzed, and he cannot do all the ‘manly’ things that he did prior to the injury. Through using a camera as a tool, he accentuates that he, and all people with disabilities, are still human.