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Andrea Walters’ 'Over My Dead Body' multimedia exhibition spotlights femicide

Andrea Walters sculptures of the mouths of silenced women on soap bars. Picture: Supplied

Andrea Walters sculptures of the mouths of silenced women on soap bars. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 28, 2022


Artist Andrea Walters is presenting a multimedia exhibition titled ’Over My Dead Body’ at the Durban Art Gallery in honour of women murdered by their partners.

The exhibition opens on Thursday, March 3 at noon and runs until May 15.

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The exhibition comprises 50 Sunlight soap sculptures of the mouths of the silenced women resting on transparent shelves and a suspended death shroud. It includes an audiovisual performance and domestic items that refer to intimacy, sexuality and violence.

Walters’ strategy is influenced by her experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) and she uses soap because memories are activated by domestic objects.

Names and smiles of victims of intimate partner violence. Picture: Supplied

“The ’Over My Dead Body’ exhibition attempts to counter the ongoing perception that it is acceptable for a man to punish a woman through violence or death. I believe that when women survivors see artwork on IPV, it provokes an instinctive response: they remember because they cannot forget,” said the artist.

She said her creative process began by collecting data and images of South African femicide victims through the media.

“I sought materials that would best represent women across socio-economic boundaries, since femicide affects all cultural and racial groups. I decided to sculpt their mouths on Sunlight soap bars found in most households, and used in some cultures to prepare bodies for burial”.

“My mother’s passing inspired a death shroud embroidered with the victims’ names. Practical experimentation led to other works in this exhibition,” Walters said.

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She hopes to engage the viewer in a participatory role by supplying additional soaps and carving tools.

“I hope that ‘something’ happens between the viewer and the artwork, evoking individual emotional responses such as grief, empathy or pain,” she said.

Walters will conduct interactive walkabouts for the public, as well as with school learners.

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The “Over My Dead Body” exhibition runs from March 3 at noon and runs until May 15 at the Durban Art Gallery, second floor of City Hall, Anton Lembede Street.

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