Brett Murray’s “The Spear” angers the ANC

thespear

Brett Murray’s exhibition at the Goodman Gallery, entitled “Hail to the Thief II” has picked up much heat in the last day or so. This is always great for the artist in question as controversy generates interest and pushes the artist along the route to fame. The exhibition as I have viewed it, is a clever reinterpretation of old African National Congress (ANC) slogans and posters which earlier in time talked of revolution, but which has now come to represent a failed promise on the part of the ANC. Murray pulls no punches, each piece powerfully expresses his view that the ANC has mutated the struggle into a moneymaking, get out of jail scheme.

The exhibition also includes other images, including the one with President Zuma standing with his private parts exposed. This picture has been the subject of much debate as a result of the ANC’s attempt to stop reproduction of this image in the City Press, and the removal of the picture from the exhibition.

This is not a flattering portrayal of the ANC or the President, and would certainly ruffle some feathers. It was intended to provoke. However the right to interpret our society and represent these interpretations in visual ways is an important right entrenched in our Constitution. The reaction of the ANC to try and censor an image, (especially when the exhibition as a whole is designed to make a statement), plays into to the message that the artist was trying to make, of a controlling, oligarchic party that has moved far from its mass democratic movement roots, and cannot be touched or criticized without consequences.

The ANC through this action is proving the point being made by the artist and further alienating itself from its support base.  Goodman Gallery and Brett Murray have had a very successful showing, as a result of the ANC allowing itself to be provoked by the ideas of one person. How many actions and policies in the future are going to be developed as a result of insecurity, vanity and anger? Surely we should allow people to have their voice and exercise our right to reply.

The exhibition will be on until the 16th June 2012.

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