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'Your Penis is Not A Weapon', PVA Mural and Laser-Cut perspex, 10m x 3.5m. (2021). Orchards Clinic, Johanneburg. 


The Orchards Clinic is a vibrant, primary healthcare facility implemented by Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). The facility aims to provide health care services in Norwood, Highlands North, Orange Groove, Orchards, and surrounding areas.


Within the courtyard of this state-of-the-art facility lies a mural creating dialogue around Gender-Based Violence, titled, ‘Your Penis is Not a Weapon. This mural can be seen from waiting rooms within the clinic - allowing people to view and engage with the mural.

The mural, commissioned by the City of Johannesburg, took close to six weeks to complete and was created by the artist Tracey Rose. She collaborated with artists Adilson De Oliveira & Mzoxolo ‘X’ Mayongo of the Magolide Collective, Khanyisile Mawhayi, and Langa Maope.


“We hope the work will take the edge off the pervasive silence that reinforces the trauma of GBV and other social ills. This space of engagement in Orchards Clinic has collectively envisioned elements of hope, strength, protection, safety, and renewal we all desire,” Tracy explained.


“We are dealing with a profoundly damaged society, and the clinic site is the centre for healing this trauma and is the core visual intension of the mural, and its considered imagery and material selection,” she said.


For Tracy, the choice to include a mural in Orchards Clinic might come as a necessity or the ability art must heal. Often, when people go to the clinic in the most vulnerable state.


Tracey elaborated that that the choice of why to produce a mural in this location, came down to two things. “How do we as artists produce work that can function as a tool of healing, conversation, and cultural production, within a space in which the general public will have the time on their hands, and subsequently, interest to engage in the idea’s we are putting forward,” she said.


The mural depicts the pervasive, traumatising, and decrepit social ills associated with contributing to the plague that is GBV in South Africa. It has eight panels, in which a linear narrative occurs within the stylistic realm of a comic book.


In the mural, a monster emerges from a swamp which is literal metaphor for the idea of Gender-Based Violence. The monster impacts society, and signifiers of GBV’s causes, effects, and after-math is depicted. These initial panels serve to demonstrate the cause and effect GBV has on society, and how it effects not only women and children, but also men.


In the next section of the mural, society has enough, and after striking a blow on a small child, a small child garnering a likeness to Super-Woman then kills the monster and brings it to its fateful end.


The following panels depict an achievement, a Utopian, in South Africa, drawing referring to a futuristic imagining of Gerard Sekoto - ‘Yellow House: A Street in Sophia Town’.


In the final sections of the mural, a tree grows under blue light, enveloped in mosaicked precious stones and crystals. A quote above the mural reads, ‘Perhaps one day, Africa’s men will protect her women, children, and men again’.   


The title, ‘Your Penis is not a Weapon’, is translated into many languages and repeated throughout the work, a tagline directed at men. “However, more important was the possibility of the tagline of the work used as a mantra of revolt by women, who may adopt it to distinguish a revolt against perpetrators of GBV,” Tracey said.


Tracey hopes that, through this mural, a conversation can be created and heard amongst the victims of GBV in understanding that speaking out against one’s perpetrators and holding them accountable is a possibility that should be supported and ordained by the government and law enforcement, but also from a grass-roots level within society.


“A mural is not going to end GBV overnight. However, an ensemble of artists hopes this work sparks not just the tiniest conversations around the ills of GBV poisoning our country currently. If the work can do this, we believe it to be a success,” Tracey said.

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