Sarah Britten Art

Paintings in lipstick

Marikana: In Honour of Pinky Mosiane

Yesterday, August 16, was the first anniversary of the Marikana massacre, when 34 miners were shot dead by police. In total, 44 people died. But 6 months before Marikana, a woman was raped and murdered underground, and her killers have never been brought to justice. This week, I read about her, and the image of her down there beneath the earth, in the dark (though it was probably well lit) struck a chord with me. I wanted to remember her somehow.

Because I don’t know what she looked like, I’ve depicted a representation of her. In pink, yes, because of her name (often a nickname given to lightskinned black women in South Africa), in the pool of blood, and surrounded by dark. She looks like more of a martyr than I intended – I wanted to give a sense of how she had escaped physical pain and suffering – but sometimes things turn out the way they are meant to.

This shows the process involved in painting. I initially gave her facial features.

But later I effaced her features with a makeup remover wipe to create the impression of light shinining from within. I like the contrast of the negative space against the red and black. Some observers have assumed I’m making some kind of racial statement, but I’m not. I’m trying to create a feeling about something, not a rigid description of a human body and skin.

The text in the painting is from this article.

Pinky Mosiane’s body was found lying in a pool of blood. She was alive when she was found, but she died soon thereafter. She had been hit in the back of the head by a blunt object. There was a used condom next to her body. Although there were thirteen miners working in the shaft at the time of her death and ample DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made.


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