I Love You Real Fast / Krisanne Johnson
Exhibit opening, screening, & talk
Tuesday October 4, 2011, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Susan Meiselas, photographer and President, Magnum Foundation
A tiny African nation of one million, the Kingdom of Swaziland reports the highest percentage of HIV positive people in the world, with the hardest hit being women aged 15-29. Life expectancy for women has dropped from 61 to nearly 31 over the past 10 years. Since 2006, I have been documenting the coming of age rites of young Swazi women to show images that might counter Western conceptions and stereotypes of Africa and reveal the multifaceted reality of HIV. The images in this exhibit cover three themes: The first is the traditional Umhlanga Dance, a rite of passage into womanhood, in which approximately 40,000 virgin girls gather to march for five days, with the King often choosing one as his wife. The second theme is a look at modern youth culture with rite of passage moments such as marriage and high school dances. And the third theme is an intimate look inside the homes of HIV-positive women—many of whom suffer disproportionately from HIV because of unequal dependency at home, little say in sexual negotiations, gender-based violence, and isolation and abandonment.
KRISANNE JOHNSON (b. 1976) grew up in Xenia, Ohio. With a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado, she pursued postgraduate work in visual communications at Ohio University. In 2006 she began long-term projects about young women and H.I.V./AIDS in Swaziland and South African youth culture. Her work has been recognized by World Press Photo, POYi, and the Best of Photojournalism. She has received a Getty Images Grant, a W. Eugene Smith Fellowship, and support from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund.
All photos © Krisanne Johnson.