Through Positive Eyes – From Human Wrongs to Human Rights

  • Posted: Nov 28, 2017

On 1 December, Iziko Museums of South Africa commemorates World Emancipation Day and Aids Day. Slavery was abolished at the Cape in 1834. Today, human trafficking and stigma attached to HIV/AIDS are prevalent issues that shackle individuals into a life of modern-day slavery.

A unique photographic exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge, Through Positive Eyes, puts cameras into the hands of people who are living with HIV/AIDS encouraging them to document their daily lives. The project is co-directed by London-based South African photographer and AIDS activist Gideon Mendel, who has been chronicling HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa since 1993.

Over the past ten years, 122 persons living with HIV/AIDS in ten major cities have participated in this collaborative photography project, contributing to an archive of photographs and mini-documentaries, all available online at

Through Positive Eyesresonates with the untold history of disease at the Cape during the slavery period. A hospital in the eastern wing of the Slave Lodge treated the enslaved and Khoi women who suffered from venereal disease. Slaves with leprosy were sent to a house on the seafront to prevent the spread of the disease, while sailors and soldiers were treated in a different hospital, opposite the Slave Lodge.

Unlike the enslaved, whose bodies were not legally their own, and whose voices were seldom allowed to be heard, Through Positive Eyes makes it possible for 100 voices to be heard, as the narrators or ‘artivists’ tell their personal stories.

The positive outcome as a result of a well networked exhibition and partnership truly resonates with our theme at the Slave Lodge  ̶  ‘from a site of Human Wrongs to a space of Human Rights’. Visitors are able to engage with local ‘artivists’ who are available daily to tell their stories about living and coping with the stigma of HIV and AIDS. This exhibition hopes to facilitate dialogue and dynamic debate in a space with a history of oppression, silence and pain.

The exhibition ends on 28 February 2018.


- ENDS –

Issued by:  Kim Lindeboom
Communications Coordinator: Department of Advancement, Iziko Museums of South Africa
Landline:021 481 38974 Cell: 083 356 6043


On behalf of: Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa

Notes to editor:

Curators are David Gere (Los Angeles), Stan Pressner (New York) and Carol Brown (South Africa)

About “Through Positive Eyes”:

Through Positive Eyes
10 Years. 10 Cities. My Photo. My Story.
A global exhibition to banish HIV stigma
Iziko Slave Lodge
1 June 2017 to 28 February 2018


About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure. The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium). Visit our webpage at, join our online community on Facebook ( or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.


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