On-line version ISSN 2309-9585
WIENAND, Annabelle. Portraits, publics and politics: Gisele Wulfsohn's photographs of HIV/AIDS, 1987-2007. Kronos [online]. 2012, vol.38, n.1, pp. 177-203. ISSN 2309-9585.
Contemporary South African documentary photography is often framed in relation to the history of apartheid and the resistance movement. A number of well-known South African photographers came of age in the 1980s and many of them went on to receive critical acclaim locally and abroad. In comparison, Gisele Wulfsohn (19572011) has remained relatively unknown despite her involvement in the Afrapix collective and her important contribution to HIV/AIDS awareness and education. In focusing on Wulfsohn's extended engagement with the issue of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, this article aims to highlight the distinctive nature of Wulfsohn's visualisation of the epidemic. Wulfsohn photographed the epidemic long before there was major public interest in the issue and continued to do so for twenty years. Her approach is unique in a number of ways, most notably in her use of portraiture and her documentation of subjects from varied racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa. The essay tracks the development of the different projects Wulfsohn embarked on and situates her photographs of HIV/AIDS in relation to her politically informed work of the late 1980s, her personal projects and the relationships she developed with non-governmental organisations.