A Cape Town artist is entering the sixth day of a year-long video performance aimed at highlighting the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa. Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency (ANA)
A Cape Town artist is entering the sixth day of a year-long video performance aimed at highlighting the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa. Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency (ANA)

Cape artist undertakes gruelling year-long video performance against GBV

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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Cape Town - A Cape Town artist is entering the seventh day of a year-long video performance aimed at highlighting the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa.

Performance artist and actress Carin Bester undertook the gruelling endeavour on April 1, which will see her saying, “She had a name”, recording this every 190 minutes for an entire year.

Over the past five years, an average of 2 763 women were murdered annually, one woman every three hours and ten minutes. This stark truth will be conveyed in “She Had a Name 365”.

The performance will be enervating for Bester, with her not sleeping for longer than three hours at any given time.

“For ‘She Had a Name 365’, I looked at the South African crime statistics from April 2015 to March 2020, where an average of 7.6 women were murdered every day. That comes down to a woman murdered every 190 minutes – not just a bad year or two, but the average number of women murdered over the last five years. This is the gruesome reality of the magnitude of femicide in South Africa,” said Bester.

“As a woman, as an artist, and as an activist, I am acutely affected by this, and I hope to use my performance to draw public attention to this issue and to encourage people to actively get involved in the fight against GBV. It is a life or death issue, and we have to make sure that we all stand up against this, that survivors can access the help they need, that perpetrators are brought to justice, and that societal and legal reforms are made to shift this reality.”

The idea arose after seeing a need for a year-long GBV campaign as opposed to the mere 16 Days of Activism against GBV, or speaking out on single cases of femicide.

Performance artist and actress Carin Bester. ’She Had a Name’ was first performed on August 1, 2020 as a durational performance piece lasting eight hours and 45 minutes. Bester typed the sentence ’She had a name’ 2 695 times, reflecting the number of women murdered from April 2019 to March 2020.
Every year 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence is overshadowed by Black Friday and the massive marketing campaigns that goes along with it previously said Gender Based Violence activities Carin Bester. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency(ANA)

Independent performing arts producer and owner of Arte Viva Management Nikki Froneman said: “Historically, art has had a role to play in drawing society’s attention to particular issues or reflecting society back to itself and often that reflection is an uncomfortable truth.

“With GBV, as a coping mechanism, many of us shut off from it, and it’s not something that necessarily makes for beautiful art, but maybe the art has a role to play in highlighting it in a different way so that attention could be paid to it, solutions can be sought.”

As part of the project, Bester will provide information on organisations involved in the fight against GBV and femicide and how the public can get involved or reach out for help.

Artist and The Total Shutdown GBV activist Unathi Ndiki said: “This 365 days GBV campaign is such an important campaign, as it will assist us as a society to stop hiding and running away from our ills and emotions. Emotions and feelings unexpressed results in an ongoing never ending cycle of continuous perpetration of abuse.”

Cape Argus

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