The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) urgently calls on the African National Congress to drop its court challenge seeking to ban a painting by artist Brett Murray.
The FXI recognises that the painting in question has caused much hurt and offense to large numbers of people in the country. We also respect the right of the ANC to mobilise its constituency to publicly protest and show its disapproval at the public 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. Continue reading
The picture we saw of our society yesterday was one that had to cause dismay: a churchman threatening to stone an artist, calls to ban and criminalise the artist and his work, the defacing of creative work, and one culprit being brutalised in front of television cameras. Continue reading
During the apartheid era, Michaelangelo’s Statue of David caused a controversy when displayed in a shop window and there were calls for David’s nakedness to be covered by a figleaf. It is worth remembering this when considering the excited response by South Africans this week to the explicit painting of President Jacob Zuma by artist Brett Murray. We do not want to go back to a situation where art is censored because it offends the ruling party, or some take it upon themselves to dictate to others what is tasteful and acceptable. We want to celebrate our artists, and not denigrate and control them in the way of apartheid, though they may provoke, push the boundaries and even cause offence. Continue reading