Status II, 2006
Mixed media and found objects, dimensions variable
Commissioned by the Board of Control of the Adler Museum of Medicine, June 2006
Churchill Madikida was the first artist to have been invited by the Board of Control of the Adler Museum of Medicine to create an installation in the Medical School foyer, using objects from the Johannesburg Hospital to create a hospice-type installation.
The installation is the artist's further exploration into the theme of HIV/AIDS on which he has focused for a number of years. The title, according to the artist, 'is an expression used by most people to classify one's character based on ancestry, intellect, income, where one lives, what one drives, who one is seen with and recently the condition of whether you are HIV positive.' He uses the ambiguity of the word and its broad context to point out that this deadly virus does not care about class: it transcends all boundaries such as gender, class, race and sexuality. He chose this theme once again to use visual arts as a medium to intensify awareness about HIV/AIDS; to show that art is a social advocacy medium; to open up new ways to break the silence about the pandemic and create a climate of greater tolerance that will make it possible for communities to explore more openly what they have historically dealt with in secrecy. He says: 'Art played a critical role in the fight against apartheid and it can play an even bigger role in the war against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.. . This exhibition is about my personal journey [his sister, to whom he was very close, died of AIDS in April 2005] but reflects on millions of other people's experiences'.
The art work consists of an installation using items from the Johannesburg Hospital (bed, overbed table, bedside locker, wheelchair, chair, drip stand) and portrays a section of a hospice as a place of survival: physically, emotionally and spiritually. The artist explained that he has used the colour red for its association with love (lovemaking) or danger. The mattress, used for patients to prevent bed sores, resembles condoms, used (or not) during lovemaking. The masks, which are self portraits of the artist, speak of his anguish and personal torment. The video, Virus, alludes to the spread of HIV in a person's body. The image of the virus fragments and splits, and forms multiple images, just as it spreads within communities, societies, nations and the world. The poignant singing is the voice of the artist's sister who he interviewed and taped for many hours before her death.
Churchill Madikida was born in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, in 1973. He obtained a BA(FA) degree from Wits in 2001 and is currently completing a MA(FA) here. He has participated in group shows since 1998 and held his first solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2003. In 2003 he was joint winner of the Tollman Art Award and is the Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for visual art for 2006. Madikida lives and works in Johannesburg.