In a review by Alex Dodd in Art South Africa Autumn 2011 of Brett Murray’s Hail to the Thief at Goodman Gallery Cape Town, he is quoted saying in response to the idea that he runs the risk of tainting people outside the ‘thievery Corporation’: “Don’t shoot the messenger. The message that I am trying to convey is that the powers that be are pissing on the graves Of everyone who struggled, everyone who died for the struggle. They are tainting their reputations, their senses of who they were. What they did. How they did… I am saying this is the knock on effect of corruption – every cent you steal, you’re pissing on the graves of The heroes.”
I sent Zanele Muholi an SMS today, perhaps she didn’t get it. Perhaps she found it insensitive. I would have. I wouldn’t have responded either. Zanele is a photographer who has been photographing gays and lesbians and who in her own words (New Yorker) has embarked “on a journey of visual activism to insure that there is black queer visibility.”
I asked her today (22 May) via sms if she’d like to comment on the national reaction to Brett Murray’s painting of Zuma, The Spear. Perhaps in relation to her theft, I said.
Actually, what a cheek, this woman is a victim of what could be a targeted attack last month, in which her hard drives were stolen. Hard drives containing all her work over the last 5 years, reports the New Yorker. Work that has sensitively portrayed people who are under constant threat of attack or corrective rape as it is known, and marginalization.
Instead of writing a story about Zanele’s own experience, I’ve asked her to comment on someone else’s work.
I wouldn’t have responded to an sms request like mine either.
Brett Murray who isn’t speaking to the press on record, earlier today sent me these images of a sculpture he made in 1990/1991. He wants his explanation of ‘The Voortrekker’ – an attack on Afrikaner patriarchy – to be made public. This work speaks, I believe, for itself with regards to Brett’s intentions and to the fact that we have come full circle politically. Here is his explanation:
“The title is Voortrekker. It is an obvious play on words. A direct translation is Front Puller. The implied vernacular translation to English would be Wanker. The intended visual metaphor presented is being one of self satisfaction and self indulgence, with the protection of a gun. In this case the attack was on the Afrikaaner patriarchy of the time. The point being, I use the image of an ape indiscriminately and apply it when and where I see fit and this is not determined by race. I have used animals as signifiers of metaphorical meaning for quite some time. The earliest, in this volumetric form , are the works attacking the patriarchy of the predominantly Afrikaaner state of the Apartheid regime which formed part of my Masters dissertation.
Pre- 1994 I have used pigs, snakes, monkeys, donkeys, elephants, rats, teddy bears,dogs, sheep, rhino, various buck, cheatas and zebras.etc
Post 1994 I have used monkeys, pigs, dogs, lions and eagles etc
The size is approx 900mm tall and approx 700 deep and 700 mm wide.”