The Portfolio: Lizzie ZiqubuM

Senior Citizens is a photo series by Lizzie ZiqubuM aimed at documenting and creating an archive of untold stories. It is a celebration, recognition and appreciation of the role that grandmothers play in society — and in their own families.  

The latter entails taking care of the family and assuming the role of head of the family, meaning they have to be a breadwinner and a caregiver, parenting grandchildren whose parents are either at work or not actively involved in raising them. The huge role of grandmothers deserves to be celebrated, but is often neglected. 

Lizzie ZiqubuM chose August, Women’s Month, to open the exhibition and marked it to run into September, a month that is also significant to this artist, who considers older people as the heritage of the nation.

ZiqubuM has laboured on this body of work since 2015. The show features 37 framed photos printed in colour and black and white, taken in and around KwaZulu-Natal. 

The contrast of the colours signifies a timeless record and highlights the sitters’ beauty, verve and resilience. Sadly, some of the participants have passed on, which cemented the artist’s urgency in showcasing the work as a way to grant those still living an opportunity to be celebrated while alive.

Including walkabouts and visits with aboggo and grandchildren, the show has provided an opportunity for the sitters and viewers to see either themselves or their relatives and friends on the wall. 

They also get to listen to the recorded messages from different generations of abazukulu, sharing love and appreciation for them. 

Most of the seniors have never set foot in a gallery and their first time is made extraordinary because they are the main focus of the exhibition.

The oldest citizen in the exhibition is the late Balingene Zwane (1917 – 2019). The photo was taken on Umkomazi, South Coast (2017). Photo: Lizzie ZiqubuM

Baja La Dhlamini Sidzumo is the curator of Senior Citizens, which runs at the KZNSA Gallery until September 13 2020

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