Senzeni Na?

South Africa is in a crisis of violence against women. 

Senzeni Na? | 50x70cm | Acrylic on Canvas | Enquire for pricing | Prints Available here

There are high profile cases such as Uyinene Mrwetyana who was raped and killed in a post office by a government post office worker but then there are the countless amounts of “non-newsworthy” cases of abuse and murder. The hashtag #AmINext has spread across social media. These cases are overwhelming and have only increased due to the very strict lockdowns done in the country paired with their alcohol and cigarette bans. What is more striking are the reactions when brave women decide to speak out against  their abuse. Studies show that “certain patterns of violence against women in South Africa are unique” (Page 437).

‘Senzeni Na?’ is a painting inspired by one of those brave women who simply shared what happened to them, Odirile Moeletsi. She went to Facebook after her boyfriend hit her for the first time. Due to her post being public, it was quickly shared across the platform but what is immediately striking is the sheer volume of comments that are not in support of the victim here. Literally hundreds of comments demand what she did to deserve the abuse, claiming she is merely wanting attention or accusing her of cheating or other acts that don’t warrant the reaction she received. 

The painting ‘Senzeni Na?’ is inspired by the picture she put up on her profile showing her clearly battered face. The face takes up most of the frame, unavoidable and seeking to leap out of the painting to seek your attention. 

Accompanying the painting is an audio piece of the same title. In the background a rendition of ‘Senzeni Na?’, meaning ‘What have I done (to deserve this)?’ is performed by The University of Pretoria Camerata. This song was a protest song from the apartheid period that the #AmINext movement has used to ask the same question.

Over the beautiful song we hear the voices of hundreds of the negative facebook comments performed by South African actress Roxanne Prentice. Her voice is distorted higher and lower in the left and right channel accordingly with her natural voice in both ears.

The listener is overwhelmed and is distracted or drawn to different comments as they launch at them. As the song plays eventually you hear some comments so cruel that they come across almost humorous at the sheer absurdity they possess.

This art piece is 13 minutes and does not even come close to displaying all the toxic comments from Odirile’s post. But how long can you actually listen to this piece. How much can you take? How much can she take? 

It is highly suggested to listen with headphones for the best experience. 


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