What: Hunger Count- a durational performance art installation by Carin Bester   
When: June 20 – 29, 2024
Time: 10: 00 – 19:00 (estimate ending time)
Where: National Arts Festival, Makhanda
Venue: The Sun Gallery, Monument Building

Cost: Daily entry to the exhibition is free. The scheduled walkabouts have a minimal cost and booking is essential https://tickets.nationalartsfestival.co.za/en/events/236/hunger-count  

Multi-disciplinary activist creative Carin Bester is igniting Hunger Count – a durational performance art installation – at National Arts Festival, Makhanda. The performance will be on daily, June 20-29, 2024 (10.00- 19.00) in the Sun Gallery at the Monument. Pop in at any time and take time to reflect on Hunger Count, with Carin Bester. According to Stats SA 2023, around 9,325 million people experienced hunger in the previous year. How do we process these staggering statistics and comprehend these numbers? The aim of Hunger Count is to “create awareness around food insecurity in SA, by creating a visual representation of these statistics” by “counting 25 660 beans (1% of the 2.566 million households going hungry) each day, over the 10 days of the festival.” This will result in “in 256 600 beans (10%) counted”, which will be “displayed in numbered heaps each representing various statistics of food insecurity in South Africa.” Read on for more information about Hunger Count. Note: there is ample parking at The Monument. The area is well lit and secure. The gallery is on the left as one enters the building:

Hunger Count – a durational performance art installation by Carin Bester   

“As a performance artist, she is the definition plus ultra of the material witness. Her staggered incantation is a tolling.” Ashraf Jamal – STRANGE CARGO Essays on Art 2022

Hunger is a daily struggle experienced all over the world, and it remains an immense problem in South Africa. According to GHS 2023, by Stats SA   2, 566 million households experienced hunger in the previous year. That translates to about 9,325 million people.

Studies have shown that globally enough food is produced to feed 1.5 x the world population. In South Africa enough food is produces to feed all its people, yet food poverty at household level is widening. High unemployment, the ongoing energy crises and the constant increase of food prices are only some of the reasons we have food insecurity in South Africa.

“We waste 10 million tons annually, equivalent to 30 billion meals.” SAHarvest.org

The question we must ask ourselves not just in South Africa but around the world is, why so many people are going hungry while others waste food?

Much of the waste is generated at a large scale, about one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Approximately 50% of this food loss takes place during harvesting. Processing, packaging, distribution, and retail account for a further 45% of wasted food. The remaining 5% of food waste is the responsibility of consumers (WWF Surplus Food Report 2018). However, many of us are guilty of buying food we never eat. Fresh produce left till it’s spoiled and then simply thrown away, while others must make do with bare minimum if anything at all.

Aim of Hunger Count

The aim of Hunger Count is to create awareness around food insecurity in SA, by creating a visual representation of these statistics. This will be done by counting 25 660 beans (1% of the 2.566 million households going hungry) each day, over the 10 days of the festival. Resulting in 256 600 beans (10%) counted. They will be displayed in numbered heaps each representing various statistics of food insecurity in South Africa. 

This however is not the only aim; artist Carin Bester asks herself and the viewer to honestly reflect on our own habits when it comes to food and food waste and to look at ways in which we can all be less wasteful and kinder to others. Individually and as big corporations.

Fighting hunger is everyone’s responsibility, and to help those in need we have joined FOOD4FUTURES in a fund-raising campaign running for the duration of the festival.https://backabuddy.co.za/campaign/hunger-count-food4futures

If we can get 50 people a day to donate R120 (or any part thereof) for 10 days, we will manage to raise R60 000. (The equivalent of 500 food parcels) Donations can be made from anywhere in the world via the Back-a-buddy link and people can follow the progress of the performance and donations via Back-a-Buddy or on Instagram


@ Food4Futures_ithembalekamva


Food4Futuresis a Makhanda-based NPO, with its primary focus being on hunger alleviation, as well as addressing other areas of need.

They supply food parcels to families who are unable to adequately feed themselves. Each parcel costs approximately R120 to make up. They also introduced three new sub-projects namely, Parking4Parcels, Care4Community and IDs4Independance

The Parking4Parcels initiative provides a way for the public to help those in need as they go about their daily lives by giving them a mini parcel ticket, which can be redeemed at their premises.
A recipient of a P4P ticket will be able to collect multiple tickets of various values and redeem them for larger parcels of the total value, or a combination of small parcels.

F4F provides consistent and on-going help to over 1000 people in various ways, with food parcels, sandwiches and supplementary food packs for school children. Additionally, the sub-projects give   special attention to those with mobility difficulties, procuring ID documents, SASSA related queries and advice as well as free distribution of second-hand clothes, shoes, bedding, and household goods donated to F4F for that purpose.

F4F believes that everyone deserves to find dignity, empathy, helpfulness, and kindness in their interactions with them.

For more information about F4F please visit their website food4futures.co.za


registered Non Profit Organisation  240-644

registered Public Benefit Orgisation 930079865 (with SARS Section 18A tax benefits)

About the artist

Carin Bester is a multimedia performance artist, actress, activist, art director and more recently curator based in Cape Town. Moving between various genres of cultural work Carin is best known for her performance artwork.

In 2015 Carin did her first Performance Art piece Verlies (Loss). She was drawn to performance art because of its immediacy and honesty, viewing it as a medium to express herself freely and interrogate socio-political issues effectively.

Many of Besters’ performances have elements of durational-art. Such as the award nominated “She had a name 365” which was a yearlong performance, highlighting femicide in South Africa. Her performance work has been seen in various galleries, art festivals and public spaces.

As a performer her work is mostly used as a tool to create dialogue around important issues faced by society. With the same impetus she now curates’ multimedia exhibitions and live art experiences. Focussing on art as activism and activism as art.


As an activist her focus has been around oppression of womxn, children and the LGBTQIA+ community. She often highlights gender-based violence; the varying degrees of oppression enforced on the femme body; and the communal and personal fight against the toxicity imbued by a dominant patriarchal system. She uses her performances to raise awareness of these and other issues in their various manifestations.

“The reality of hunger has always affected me deeply, seeing people beg for food and reading articles about hunger have always been triggering. In 2023 Ground Up released an article which stated the following “According to Gift of Givers, in one home a grandmother cut half of a small cabbage as dinner for herself and her six grandchildren, planning to beg for more food the next day.” This disturbed me greatly and that’s when I knew I had to work with the topic of hunger.  

My work very often works with statistics and this time is no different. Stats SA recently released their GHS 2023 report and the number of people going hungry is so big it is impossible to visually imagine it.

With Hunger Count I will aim to create a visual representation of these statistics to try and show the viewer the magnitude of the problem.

I hope that the reality of me sitting counting for about nine hours a day to get to only 1% will make people realise just how incredibly big the problem is and in reaction to that I hope that people will donate towards the cause and also look at ways in which they can help people or organisations long term and become more aware of their own relationship with food and food wasting.”

Visual representation of hunger statistics: Carin Bester is presenting a Hunger Count, a durational performance art installation at National Arts Festival, Makhanda, June 20 – 29, 2024 at the Sun Gallery at the Monument. Info: https://tickets.nationalartsfestival.co.za/en/events/236/hunger-count  

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