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The Spear: a controversial painting in South Africa
May 23, 2012 3:32 PM   Subscribe

The Spear, a painting by South African artist Brett Murray is causing quite a stir. The painting is the subject of an attempted ban by the South African president, Jacob Zuma, according to the article and a general accusation of racism by the ANC leadership which has led at least one interesting response in the blogosphere.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wikipedia has an image (NSFW I suppose) of the painting pre-defacement
posted by exogenous at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2012


Meanwhile a second group of painters have unveiled their own picture of five naked white figures – among them opposition leader Helen Zille and murdered far right leader Eugene Terreblanche – being inspected by a black official with a clipboard, a take on a notorious photograph from the early years of white rule in South Africa in which a white official with a clipboard inspects a line of naked black people. This second painting is so awful, its central figures scarcely recognizable, it has the unfortunate effect of improving the first.

Really? Because that sounds like an awesome painting to me (but maybe an eensy bit on the nose).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:46 PM on May 23, 2012


So, South Africa is officially out of major problems now, and can turn its attention to other matters, such as art? Hooray!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:47 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I dunno what the situation is like in South Africa, but that "interesting response" reads a lot like the standard reverse racism bullshit we read in the US.

Today, I shouted at a taxi driver who pushed in-front of me nearly driving me into the curb with no regard for the fact that I have a child in the car - I must be a racist, because only racists care about road safety it would seem.

etc.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:59 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really? Because that sounds like an awesome painting to me (but maybe an eensy bit on the nose).

I think the quote is suggesting that the painting is poorly composed, not that its message is necessary a poor one.
posted by asnider at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2012


Well, as usual, if they hadn't defaced it I would probably never had seen that painting or read the wikipedia articles about these people.

Depenisment?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:09 PM on May 23, 2012


I dunno what the situation is like in South Africa, but that "interesting response" reads a lot like the standard reverse racism bullshit we read in the US.

It does sound like that, but remember that white people more or less control the government in the US and are (sort of) in the majority. I don't want to minimise the horrors of Apartheid, or ignore the fact that whites in South Africa still control a lot of the wealth, but they are a minority with limited influence in the government. In other words, not much like the US.
posted by atrazine at 4:13 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stopped reading the interesting response at "get's". I don't know what this makes me.
posted by cromagnon at 4:19 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, South Africa is officially out of major problems now, and can turn its attention to other matters, such as art? Hooray!

No. Zuma is one big problem on his own.
posted by New England Cultist at 4:31 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stopped reading the interesting response at "get's". I don't know what this makes me.

A good person, worthy and true, IMO.

Because I am made of stern stuff, I made it all the way to the first '????????'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:44 PM on May 23, 2012


In South Africa, the word racist has lost it’s original meaning and now only get’s used to describe a white person doing something a black person doesn’t like.
Aaaand I stopped reading. Obviously I have no idea what it's like to be a white person in South Africa, but if your argument sounds like the standard-issue racist screeds by actually racist idiots on the internet, you're not going to make yourself seem very sympathetic to outsiders.
So, South Africa is officially out of major problems now, and can turn its attention to other matters, such as art? Hooray!
Apparently the U.S ran out of problems in 1987, and we've been living in a utopia since then. You should really let everyone know!
posted by delmoi at 5:03 PM on May 23, 2012


I'm only someone who has read a lot about South Africa and talked with white refugees from there, but the News24 article hits the nail on the head and "yeah that's racist" is neither a meaningful nor helpful response.
posted by shii at 5:05 PM on May 23, 2012


Obviously I have no idea what it's like to be a white person in South Africa...

No, obviously, you do not.
posted by New England Cultist at 5:16 PM on May 23, 2012


When someone criticizes an artwork for being thematically bad, but also technically bad, I am reminded of that restaurant that serves terrible food and the portions are too small.

Make up your mind, people. Choose the relevant criticism.
posted by Nomyte at 5:20 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, is people accused of being racist for complaining about their children almost being killed by cars a thing in South Africa? Again, I'm not there so I dunno but generally I find even the average racist doesn't excuse child murder.

Is the ANC really brainwashing people to make false allegations of racism like the article claims?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2012


"I'm only someone who has read a lot about South Africa and talked with white refugees from there, but the News24 article hits the nail on the head and "yeah that's racist" is neither a meaningful nor helpful response."

What nail on what head? That sometimes people use "Racist" as an excuse or an insult? Yeah, but that doesn't mean that racism isn't still a huge fucking problem and using the few exceptions in order to dismiss racism generally is bullshit. So it may have hit the nail on the head, but it was the wrong fucking board.
posted by klangklangston at 5:35 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


In South Africa, the word racist has lost it’s original meaning and now only get’s

Two misuses of apostrophes in such a short space. Wait. Is this article about something?
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm totally unqualified to assess the level of racist intent; I know that South African politics is a minefield on questions of race, obviously. But Zuma would not exactly be the only political figure with a well-known sexual history who is parodied in this manner; fellow not-convicted-rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for instance.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, a nude painting of our Prime Minister - who is not known for his sexual peccadilloes - sold for $5000, drawing only mild titters. (I actually didn't hear about it until it was referenced in an article about the Zuma painting.)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:40 PM on May 23, 2012


No, obviously, you do not.
Well, like I said, an article like that is certainly not going to help.
Is the ANC really brainwashing people to make false allegations of racism like the article claims?
I'm sure you could find Americans saying the exact same thing about democratic party. In fact, here's the first result when you google for "democratic party claims racist"
So what’s the deal? Why is the Democratic Party clinging to racism like a wall full of barnacles on the hull of a rusted ship? The most popular explanation is that that is their lever on political power. With 99 percent of African-Americans and 77 percent of Jewish-Americans (excuse the reactionary hyphens), not to mention a huge percentage of Hispanic-Americans, voting their way, what’s not to like? Keep America divided according to race and keep getting elected.
Yawn.

The thing is, this Zuma guy does have issues. If you want to rebut the racism charge, it would be better to do so by pointing out all the other reasons why a painting like this might be appropriate.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Cool Papa Bell: As long as people can paint paintings like this, and as long as Zapiro can draw his cartoon take on the matter, yes, we are OK.

@Cautiontothewind: The painting was happily hanging on a wall when the ANC caught wind of it and made a big noise about it. That then brought the matter to the attention of the public. That lead to the defacement. Barbra Streisand.

@Homeboy Trouble: The painting in question sold for R130 000 (after the ANC started making noises) which is around $15k or so. Dunno if it's worth more or less with the defacement, there was a debate going on about that as well...

The post earlier this week about the UK olympics, with the link to the stamps... I think those are in worse taste than the JZ painting, and if the Royal family were to comment, it would blow up in the same way, but they are hopefully wise enough to leave it alone.

On the racism thing. South Africa isn't black and white. South Africa has more than ten different cultures / races of black people, as well as white people from Dutch, French, British decent, as well as "coloured" people decended from the Dutch interbreeding with the locals, as well as people of Malay and Indian decent... The whites mostly get along fine (although at school level, back when schools were white or black only, the afrikaans kids would beat up the english kids and vice versa) but traditionally some black tribes don't like some other black tribes (biggest probably being the Xhosa vs the Zulu).

Point being that a black guy who doesn't like a black guy because he's a Zulu not a Xhosa is of course a racist -- but people don't get that because the word "racist" was coined to describe a white attitude towards a black person. Same thing for a black guy not liking a white guy -- the black guy is oppressed so he's allowed not to like the white guy, right?

So we say "blacks can't be racist".

And no, this doesn't mean that I have a point :-)
posted by wrm at 1:47 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


South Africa is a fascinating place. There is plenty of bigotry to go around on all sides. It's quite difficult because there are plenty of legitimate complaints on all sides as well. But if I could fix ONE thing only down there, I'd like to get the Xhosa and Zulu to get along, and I'd like some Zulu pride to rub off on the Xhosa, who in my experience, suffered horribly from its lack. It's easy to worry about Xhosa people. The Zulu give every impression they will come out on top.
posted by Goofyy at 2:38 AM on May 24, 2012


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