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The Culture of AIDS in AfricaHope and Healing Through Music and the Arts$
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Gregory Barz and Judah Cohen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744473

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199744473.001.0001

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Aesthetics and Activism

Aesthetics and Activism

Gideon Mendel and The Politics of Photographing the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in South Africa

Chapter:
(p.215) 18 Aesthetics and Activism
Source:
The Culture of AIDS in Africa
Author(s):

Michael Godby

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199744473.003.0018

This chapter explores the politics of photographing the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa by focusing on Gideon Mendel, a photojournalist entirely committed to biomedical treatment of the pandemic. Mendel has spent much of his career documenting the impact of HIV/AIDS on the people of South Africa, his native country. More than merely documenting, however, Mendel has served for many as a prototypical model for artist-as-activist, using his photography to effect social change in arenas such as advocacy for access to antiretroviral therapies, and contributing to or fostering broader political campaigns (such as those related to the Treatment Action Campaign). This chapter considers Mendel’s attempt to change the balance of power that exists between photographers and their subjects.

Keywords:   politics, HIV/AIDS, South Africa, Gideon Mendel, photojournalist, artist-as-activist, photography, social change, antiretroviral therapies, political campaigns

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