The Keiskamma Guernicas – (re)making experiences of HIV/AIDS in the Eastern Cape. 3 short films from ‘Guernica Remakings’ (2)

AiW Guest: Nicola Ashmore.

AiW note: This post continues our AiW series about the project, book, and exhibition Guernica Remakings. Curated by our Guest Author Dr Nicola Ashmore (University of Brighton, July 31 – August 23), the exhibition features visual artworks from across the globe that remake Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica (1937) for political protests, and which resonate with the original intention of the work – “to push back at those in power who choose to act to the detriment of civilians”.

The exhibition includes a textile artwork commissioned for Guernica Remakings made by members of the Keiskamma Art Project, South Africa (2016-17). The piece is the most recent of KAP’s five remakings of Picasso’s iconic painting, and the last, to date, of four which have been commissioned internationally, after the first, and largest, exhibited in 2010.


Detail: Keiskamma Guernica, 2010.

Each of the Keiskamma Guernicas tells the story of the impact of HIV/AIDS and challenge the ineffectual response of consecutive South African governments to its crisis in the rural Peddie region of the Eastern Cape. 

This is the second of three short film posts accompanying our introduction to the project. These follow-up posts host documentary films made during the Guernica Remakings project, through which the makers of the Keiskamma Guernicas voice their role in the making process of the to-scale piece, exhibited in 2010.

For more information about the Keiskamma Trust and the Keiskamma Guernicas, their particular translations of Picasso’s painting, and links to the other reworkings that the Guernica Remakings exhibition sets them in dialogue with, see Nicola’s first post in our series here

The first of the documentary films associated with this series, which explores the significance of making the first and largest Keiskamma Guernica in the context of the regional communities impacted by South African state policies during the HIV/AIDS crisis, is hosted by us here.

NB – Oct 2020: we are also pleased to share news of two updates to Nicola’s project and the Keiskamma Guernicas, most recently a film of the tour of the Guernica Remakings exhibition in 2019, and a further 12 documentary films about the making of the fifth Keiskamma Guernica, the tapestry commissioned by Nicola for the Guernica Remakings exhibition:
– Update for October 2020: to find out about the Keiskamma Guernicas as part of the Guernica Remakings 2019 exhibition tour, see this link for the 55min tour documentary:
– Update for 2018: 12 x documentary films about the making of the fifth Keiskamma Guernica featured in the Guernica Remakings exhibition, curated by Nicola Ashmore:


This second film in the Keiskamma Guernicas series documents interviews with some of those involved in the workshops that surrounded the making of the large scale Keiskamma Guernica (2010), both facilitators and participants.

Fig.35. Weeping_women_workshop_2010

Weeping Women Workshop. Photographer Irene Neilson, 2010.

Picasso’s weeping women images were used in workshops to explore expressions of grief and suffering. As seen in the film, notably, for the Xhosa women involved, there are acceptable time periods and public places for mourning but beyond that, grief is largely contained. Discussing personal expressions of grief, crying and suffering, traversed and opened this private / public divide. Footage also articulates experiences of making other shapes in the banner to directly express anger at, and the sickness of the government’s responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the region. This film includes the significance of the creation of a kraal, a sacred space, for the work’s first display and exhibition in 2010, and the establishment of a Ceramics Studio as part of the Keiskamma Art Project, to pass on skills for making traditional pots for remembrance.

Fig.36. Weeping_women_in_Keiskamma_Guernica_2010

Weeping Women in Keiskamma Guernica, 2010. Photographer Joe Hague, 2017.


Nicola Portrait 6x4Nicola Ashmore’s research interests focus on artistic interventions and curatorial practice, notably the means through which this can leverage collaborative activism. She is currently researching re-makings of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, created collaboratively as a form of political activism. Dr Ashmore has lectured at the University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities since 2007 and continues to investigate and illuminate how meaning is constructed and held in material form to reveal local and global political issues.



Guernica Remakings line drawing, Ryan Wooding, 2017.

The fifth Keiskamma Guernica is displayed as part the Guernica Remakings exhibition in Brighton, UK (31st Jul-23rd Aug 2017), which marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the town of Gernika in Spain, and the exhibition of Picasso’s Guernica at the Exposition Internationale, Paris, May – November 1937. This exhibition demonstrates the transnational relevance of the messages held within the remakings of Guernica from the UK to South Africa, Syria to Canada, and America to Iraq, particularly poignant in a period when the UK is withdrawing from Europe, motivated in part, it seems, by fear around the freedom of movement of ‘others’. Through this testament to the power of Guernica as a political protest, the painting’s humanitarian message is recalled, for solidarity and compassion that transcends borders.

31 July – 23 August 2017
Open Monday to Friday 10AM – 6PM

University of Brighton Gallery
58-67 Grand Parade


Keiskamma-cropped-logo_headerThe Keiskamma Trust promotes health and hope through art, music, HIV/AIDS treatment, poverty alleviation projects and education initiatives in the village of Hamburg and its surroundings in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Providing the only AIDS/HIV treatment in this area of South Africa, it currently has nearly 200 people on Anti-retroviral drugs.
Facebook page; and Twitter – @KeiskammaTrust.
For more information on the Keiskamma Guernicas and the Keiskamma Trust, and the fifth Keiskamma Guernica as part of the Guernica Remakings project and exhibition, see the previous posts in the AiW series:
– Update for October 2020: to find out about the Keiskamma Guernicas as part of the Guernica Remakings 2019 exhibition tour, see this link for the 55min tour documentary:
– Update for 2018: 12 x documentary films about the making of the fifth Keiskamma Guernica featured in the Guernica Remakings exhibition, curated by Nicola Ashmore:

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