Women’s league joins march on gallery

2012-05-26 14:01

The ANC Women’s League joined the call for a march on the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank, north of Johannesburg, to protest two paintings on display.

This was decided at a meeting of the league’s national executive committee yesterday, its spokesperson Troy Martens said.

The march to the gallery will take place on Tuesday with the gathering meeting at the Zoo Lake at 9am and marching at 10am.

Both works behind the protest are by Cape Town artist Brett Murray and part of his Hail to the Thief II exhibition which is on display at the Goodman Gallery from 10 May to 16 June.

The first painting, The Spear, is of President Jacob Zuma displaying his genitals. The work was defaced last Tuesday and is the subject of court action by the ANC to have it removed from the gallery and taken off the website of the City Press newspaper.

The second work, titled Sold, is the ANC logo with the words For Sale and Sold painted over it.

Sold defaced the ANC logo, Martens said.

The league’s national executive committee felt the The Spear opened old wounds and brought back memories of a time when the dignity of black people had been undermined, she said.

“Human dignity is not something that can be debated; in a country where our past was fraught with indignity, human dignity becomes a non-negotiable right for all South Africans enshrined in our Constitution and a nation building tool in our democracy,” she said.

Martens said that while freedom of expression was a right, it was “not absolute” and came with responsibility.

“This painting has caused a lot of pain for many who do remember, and those who don’t need to be reminded, of where we come from as South Africans,” she said.

The dignity of people could not be disregarded for the benefit of freedom of expression, Martens said. The women’s league had noted “the bold stand” of ordinary South Africans with no links to the ANC but who were so offended by the work they felt the need to destroy it.

“This painting is an icon of destruction towards our unified country and let’s calls for its removal as a unified body of proud South African citizens from all walks of life,” Martens said.

The Congress of the South African Trade Unions today called on all workers to also join the march.

Its spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “Cosatu calls on all workers, employed and unemployed, youth and students, and all who disagree with a painting of anybody’s genitals, worst of all the president of the country, to join the march.”

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