Femicide no longer in the shadows. Posters and bags by Caitlin Montagu and Natasha Liow.
Three days before the Gathering against Gender Based Violence on 4 September 2019, Caitlin and Natasha realized that they hadn’t seen any visual representation of solidarity with the movement, only a couple of hashtags and a suggestion that those attending the demonstration should dress in black.
The photograph of Uyinene Mrwetyana that was used most broadly across all media platforms was one in which she was wearing a black beret. With the momentum of the movement gathering at the rate it was, the symbolism of a black beret felt important. Uyinene woke South Africa up, and her face had become the symbol of the need for change – she emerged as a single representative for the many thousands who are not seen.
Over the course of that night, Natasha and Caitlin worked on creating the image and its message. In the original photograph, Uyinene is smiling. Removing her mouth from the image and replacing it with text at once represents the loss of her voice, which was stolen, but the word being the collective “we” represents solidarity – by standing together, South Africans are demanding that the staggering frequency of rape and murder be brought down. With her eyes being the only remaining facial feature depicted, we harness the strength of the visual. We as a nation cannot afford to turn our gaze away from this reality any longer.
Creating the artwork also allowed those who were not able to be physically present at the demonstration to show solidarity with the groundswell.
Uyinene’s uncle has said that the family believes she has been made “a sacrificial lamb”.
We see her. We see you. We see all the slain women whose stories go untold. We see the men who perpetrate these crimes. We see the men who call out their brothers who perpetuate a culture of rape. We see the toxic system that allows this grotesque reality to continue.