The role of sculptural forms as a communication tool in lives and experiences of women with HIV/AIDS in Uganda
Nabulime, Lilian Mary
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This study explores the use of sculpture, developed through research into the lives and experiences of Ugandan women living with HIV/AIDS, as a tool for raising awareness about the illness. It demonstrates how the research engendered two parallel outcomes: the development of new areas of sculptural practice and strategies of presentation and the practical application of these in communicating HIV/AIDS awareness to literate and illiterate people from diverse ethnic groups. The introductory discussion in Chapter 1 presents the research questions and the aims, significance, limitations and scope of the study. It establishes the background of sculptural practice in Uganda, characterises the work produced prior to the research and explains the reasons for undertaking the research in the United Kingdom. The impact of HIV/AIDS in Uganda is briefly indicated along with the factors which make women particularly susceptible to infection. Chapter 2 consists of a literature review covering existing discourse on issues of communication of HIV/AIDS awareness through contemporary art practice, mass media and practical initiatives in Uganda, other Africa countries and the West. It considers the range of visual materials and performative initiatives adopted in communicating HIV/AIDS awareness specifically in Uganda. A wider consideration of contemporary art indicates key aspects and artists informing the adoption of readymades, multi-part installations, multiples, actions and other new approaches in developing the sculptural work. Chapter 3 describes the initial development of sculptures generated from a personal experience of caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and analyses data gathered from a Pilot project in the UK. Further data from an HIV-Positive Women’s group and the thirteen HIV/AIDS organisations in Uganda was then analysed and more sculptures generated, from which one type was selected and taken back to Uganda for testing as described in Chapter 4. The results of field-testing in Uganda, presented in Chapter 4, reveal that sculpture could be an important medium through which to articulate issues concerning HIV/AIDS in a predominantly patriarchal, multi-ethnic society with high levels of illiteracy, especially among women. The use of sculptural works in this context is innovatory as hitherto sculpture has been disregarded as bulky, expensive and not easily reproduced. This research indicates that such drawbacks can be overcome, and that the particular visual and tactile properties of sculpture can bridge many divides. The thesis documents the issues explored during the development of the sculptures, and the Ugandan response to their use in facilitating the complex and culturally sensitive work of raising HIV/AIDS awareness as a potential contribution to prevention.