Jason Langa
Jason Langa

ARTIST: JASON LANGA
COUNTRY: SOUTH AFRICA
MATERIALS USED: GRAPHITE and CHARCOAL on PAPER

I live in a community where street vendors are common in the streets I often walk in. Being from a country which has a high unemployment rate, the people here often rely on hand to mouth jobs in order to provide for their families, even one day away from their informal work is extremely detrimental to their health and wellbeing because that means that going to bed on an empty stomach is a big reality. Since the lockdown regulations have been put in place, many of these self-employed individuals have been forced to remain indoors and not go to work, with that being said, where do they get their food from? how often do they go to bed hungry? I firmly believe that fruits and vegetables are just as much an essential as sanitizers and masks.

This artwork is titled “Umbila”. This artwork is my response to the COVID-19 virus which has plagued my community and the world as a whole. I decided to look at the impact of this virus from a perspective that is very close to home, the street vendors and other people who have similar jobs.

Since lockdown regulations have been put in place, that meant that these men and women could not take to the streets and make their money, as usual, this meant that food would be taken from them and their families mouths amongst other things. The woman depicts a common job in south African townships and some suburbs, women carry buckets on their heads selling fruits and vegetables such as mielies (corn), potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, grapes, etc. she represents all the various occupations which could be similar to that one.

Inside the bucket, there are essentials which have been in demand since the start of this pandemic, such as sanitizers, masks, toilet paper etc. those objects act as a play on the word essentials because food is just as much an essential as hygiene products. I titled the artwork “Umbila” which means mielies in isiZulu to further elaborate on the relatability of this woman’s job to most south African people.