State must keep eye on the right balls

2012-05-26 10:17

Dear Ferial Haffajee. Thank you for constantly reminding us in South Africa of our right to freedom of speech and expression.

You are the bravest ­editor in our country, the only one with balls!

Why this outrage by the ANC and other art-illiterates about a painted image of a penis that appears on a painting of a silhouette figure based on that of a propaganda ­image of Lenin?

Only the head in profile has a likeness to that of President Jacob Zuma.

A painting is an idea and not the thing in itself. How on earth could “the genitals of Zuma be exposed on a painting”?

Surely his must be safe inside his trousers?

This painting’s title is The Spear, not Portrait of Zuma, and should be interpreted in context of the artist’s chosen metaphors to make a satirical statement about the current state of our country.

When will the uninformed public and our leaders make the effort to learn more about artistic expression, its language of images, its metaphors, ideas and genres?

Perhaps they should visit exhibitions more often, and invite their rich tenderpreneur buddies to buy less bling and more genuine artwork.

Ignorant of a black artist who ­also painted the chief without clothes, Gwede Mantashe and others call the artist’s painting (which they have not seen) “racist”, “disrespectful”, “vulgar”, “disgraceful”, a “humiliation” and “pornography”, and proceeded with a court interdict against the gallery and the messenger.

In a country where the percentage of women and babies raped is the highest in the world, these patriarchs choose to focus on a comrade’s penis as if it is state jewellery.

Strangely enough, these “shocked” gentlemen never reprimanded Julius Malema or Cosatu members for making vulgar, racist and disrespectful remarks in public about women such as Helen Zille or Haffajee.

It is time the ANC makes sure that, if it wants to rule “till kingdom come”, it chooses in future honourable presidents worthy of a Nelson Mandela.

In the meantime, the government should keep its eye on the ball of effective governance, and not on the balls in a painting.

Elsa Lamb

via email

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