Showcasing art and justice

2008-12-31 00:00

AS those who have visited the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg know, art is an integral part of its design, whether in the carpets, light fittings, the “Justice under a Tree” logo of the court itself, or in the collection that is housed in the building.

This is no accident — when the Durban-based architects Andrew Makin and Janina Masojada won the competition for the architectural design of the court, they integrated art into all aspects of their work. More than many art galleries, the Constitutional Court showcases the creative talents of South Africans in a spectacular manner.

Now Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, who edited the earlier David Krut publication on the building of the court, Light on a Hill, has put together an elegant volume that combines photographs of the artworks collected in the court and the pieces that are part of its construction. There are also essays by Judge Albie Sachs and the architects, and explanations by many of the artists of the processes involved in the creation of the works.

The court has been in the news a lot recently, not always for the reasons the judges might have chosen. But this book offers a look at the ideals on which it is built, and their dynamic translation into art. In life, compromises and reality tarnish ideals; it is good to have a reminder of what they are, and how they can be kept in the public eye.

Margaret von Klemperer

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