Drop art court challenge: FXI

2012-05-29 20:20

Johannesburg - The ANC should drop its court challenge to ban the controversial painting The Spear, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) said on Tuesday.

It said it recognised that the painting had caused much hurt and offence to a large number of people in the country.

The ANC also had the right to mobilise its constituency to publicly protest and show its disapproval at the display of the image.

"But we cannot support calls for the banning of artwork, nor threats to the artist and gallery, nor any attempt to narrow the space artists have to do their work freely and critically," FXI spokesperson Anton Harber said in a statement.

The painting by artist Brett Murray was part of his Hail to the Thief II exhibition on show at the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The painting was defaced a week ago and was removed from the exhibition.

The ANC and its affiliate organisations marched on the gallery on Tuesday to demand that the work be removed from the gallery's website and that it publicly apologise for displaying the work.

Political weapon

The ANC had called for a boycott of City Press newspaper for publishing a picture of the painting and for displaying it on its website. The boycott was called off after the newspaper removed the image.

Harber said the institute decried the fact that City Press was targeted in the debacle over the painting, as the newspaper had a "very crucial right to report on the exhibition and painting in question".

The FXI condemned threats of violence directed at the newspaper's editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee and her staff.

"The City Press was a messenger in this instance. While readers are entitled to choose to buy or boycott a newspaper, a call to withdraw government advertising is a call to break the law governing government expenditure, which obliges it to be used in a neutral and cost-effective way and make it an offence to use it as a political weapon."

Harber said the ANC should desist from demanding an apology from the newspaper, as it was performing its duty of informing its readers about what has turned out to be an art exhibition of great public interest.

"The right to protest and the right to express unpopular opinions or produce unpopular and even offensive art are both freedoms of expression that we defend."

This was a healthier route to nation building than resorting to the courts and emerging as winners or losers over rights that should be enjoyed by all, said Harber.

  • jo.vankatwijk - 2012-05-29 20:42

    The ANC is milking the situation for all it's worth. They have nothing else to do it seems. Much ado about such a little thing (and you can take that any way you like).

      Johann - 2012-05-29 21:07

      Wouldn't surprise me if someone in the ANC commissioned the artist to do the artwork in the first place.

  • Nicholas - 2012-05-29 20:45

    The ANC don't believe in freedom of expression so why should they listen to the FXI ?

      Gerald - 2012-05-30 08:12

      As a flipside isn't the ANC court action also their right of expression, and FXI asking them not to proceed with it means FXI is refusing their right to self expression. Murray expressed his criticism of Zuma 'artistically', they are also expressing their objection t Brett, although through the courts. Double standards FXI?uble

      Nicholas - 2012-05-30 08:40

      So according to your logic, if the government suspended the Constitution and banned democratic elections they would just be exercising their freedom of expression?

  • Johann - 2012-05-29 21:02

    Apartheid's fault that the FXI recommends dropping the challenge.

  • raymond.abrahamse - 2012-05-29 21:16

    People use to mock the Apartheid Government for it's 'KRAGDADIGHEID'attitude.We have same here with the African National Circus,displaying an attitude worse than the old NP.

  • Nomfundo - 2012-05-29 21:35

    Let us be honest fellow Africans; we used to respect our elders, not at this present moment. Why do we have 83 year old grand mothers raped by 20 year olds and brutally killed? why do we have so many street children if we have ubuntu? why do we have 9months old babies raped by old men? why do we have so many child headed households in South Africa if our communities care? Why do we have a president who sleeps around making babies faster than service delivery? Plz spare us the crap of us respecting our elders and each other!!

  • Brad - 2012-05-29 21:43

    Enough now! We have more pressing issues, like children not having text books or proper schooling or living in poverty or affected by crime. Our politicians are playing on emotions while they divide and mismanage resources. President Zuma brought this upon himself. I also fought for freedom and marched and have the battle scars. We continue the struggle today while our government talk but do very little else. Not white or racist. I am a South African!

  • sfiso.nsibande1 - 2012-05-29 21:43

    Some certain sector will always have racist tendencies, freedom of expression? it amazes me why Mr. Malema was taken to court for singing a certain song wasnt that freedom of expression? This brilliant herber guy insist that we have the right to protest if we not happy and the artist have to express himself? since when a right of one individual is allowed to trump over millions of people's right?why he doesnt address the artist address the ANC is he still use the my BOY attitude toward blacks, the people who strongly feel offended about how we do things and how we want maybe they should just leave us for the place which will afford them the type of environment they want.

      F474L3RR0R - 2012-05-29 22:07

      I'm not too sure what you're trying to say... But from what I could make out, I feel you may misunderstand many aspects of life and ethics. Malema's song was determined as hate speech. The lyrics were clear and could only be interpreted one way. The Spear is an artists depiction of his thoughts, and left to us to interpret it as we please. He never claimed we should shoot Zuma. His painting doesn't specifically claim anything negative in my opinion, which is different to your opinion, and therefore adding to the beauty of the concept \art!\ If you feel it dishonours the ANC and Zuma then that is an indication that you feel the ANC and Zuma are dishonourable. Maybe striking a little too close to home? I'm still confused as to why people feel Zuma, as president, automatically deserves to be respected, when we as people dictate the respect we deserve!

      Jenny - 2012-05-29 22:14

      Really depressing that there are still racist dinosaurs like you around Sfiso. Can't see further than the end of your nose - too sad!

      Lieb Pelser - 2012-05-29 22:33 This painting will never be remove. it will be forever out there as a sign of victory

      sfiso.nsibande1 - 2012-05-30 07:38

      I have nothing to say to bitter people..

      sfiso.nsibande1 - 2012-05-30 08:27

      I have nothing to say to bitter people..

  • Songezo - 2012-05-29 21:45

    This spear thing is now annoying me nxa!! people need to seriously get over it now.

      sfiso.nsibande1 - 2012-05-29 21:49

      Get over yourself this is not about you, if you feel offended, Dude take a shower and calm down.

      Nicolaas - 2012-05-29 23:57

      @DOMFISO, get over yourself and drown in the drainhole where you escape from. We have enough idiots in parlament that does not know their heads from their ass! Maybe you should take a wash and throw yourself out with the water, that way you get rid of yourself and save us the agony of reading your stupid uneducated comments!

      sfiso.nsibande1 - 2012-05-30 07:06

      This exactly what am taking about, tendencies!!!of undermining blacks and here we go!!! calling my comments uneducated whilst you might have not even made it to the steeps of University whilst blacks like us have achieved more than 3 degree and it about time things change in Africa we have bended enough for you lot, we learn you language whilst you the visitors in our own and even have the nerve on how we articulate your language whilst you can't utter a word of any of the languages of the people of the land and that exactly our point you dont belong to our culture, way of life and our land, we as africans have been kind enough to allow thiefs who came to Africa with nothing in mind but to enslave us, steal our land at gun point and yet we let them live a good comfortable life ko Sandton, okuyilona phutha elikhulu esilenzile ngoba sebesijwayela kabi....TAIFA LA WATO....Aluta continues

  • Lieb Pelser - 2012-05-29 22:36

    this painting will never be remove. it will be out there forever as a sign of victory

  • Thozi - 2012-05-29 22:39

    Now that the issue of the Spear, which was a good Diversion, seems to have been "subjugated", can the real problems that face South Africans such as unemployment, hunger, exposure to elements, crime, homelessness, lack of proper education for the poor, transport, corruption by the top elite with the right connections, etc. etc. etc. be attacked with the same vigour? I bet 90% of the "comrades" who marched to the Goodman Gallery are now hungry while the Promoters/Callers of the march or the boycott of the City Press, have a huge problem in choosing a good menu - all on the house of course.

      Luviwe - 2012-05-29 23:01

      Hungry is 99%.

      Johann - 2012-05-29 23:41

      This is what communism feels like - get used to it. By the way, when and where did the African National Congress change into the Communist National Congress?

  • christof.coetzee - 2012-05-30 03:58

    I feel like starting a typical 70's riot in the name of art and freedom of expression - these monsters are sick from communism.

  • wacky.anderson - 2012-08-22 16:47

    i recall bishop tutu appealing to zuma to forget about the presidency. zuma should have heeded the words of a wise and seasoned man.

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