In partnership with The END Fund, through the support of Reaching the Last Mile and under the creative direction of contemporary artist and activist Aïda Muluneh, the 38 photographs by artists from seven African countries highlight the toll controllable diseases take on individuals and communities. Through the subjects’ eyes, art becomes a tool of shared human emotion while addressing the need to spread awareness.
“I wanted to talk about simple diseases in Africa that could be fixed with vaccines because I’ve seen how people suffer,” Somali-born artist Mustafa Saeed, whose work is featured in the exhibition, tells EBONY.
“Some people die from illnesses that could be easily treated with a simple pill taken for a few days. This made me realize that we need to work harder to get the right medicine and knowledge to those who need it.”
Saeed’s series illuminates the deeply personal and often hidden struggle that individuals endure due to intestinal worms. “These parasites, though easily treatable, can result in profound emotional turmoil and a feeling of neglect and entrapment, akin to being a prisoner to a disease within one’s own body,” he shares.
By incorporating colorful ropes and garments, Saeed visualizes the binding nature of the condition and the sense of confinement it engenders. Vibrant hues contrast with somber reality, symbolizing both the suffering and the inexplicable neglect of a problem that has a simple solution.
“I aimed to capture this complex emotional landscape through the use of symbolic elements in the images,” he explains. “The intention behind this series was not only to depict the pain and suffering but also to provoke dialogue and awareness about a medical issue that, with proper care and attention, can be eradicated. I wanted the viewers to not only see the struggle but to feel a call to action, understanding that this is a preventable tragedy.”
While Saeed understands he can’t fix the problem himself, he hopes it gets people talking. “I want to inspire people to take action in their own communities. By looking at these images, they might feel motivated to join groups that are working to make things better or to find new solutions to problems in their areas.”
Here are more works featured in Reframing Neglect at The Africa Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public until September 3.
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