Brett Murray’s poster of the ANC logo covered by a red SOLD notice was left stuck into the railings outside the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town following the #ZumaMustFall rally in the Gardens on December 16. It was the perfect comment to the sad state of our nation at the end of 2015.
It’s a long time since I have marched, but on December 16, nation wide calls to march against Zuma found me in the studio grabbing the nearest pot of Sennelier cadmium red pigment and mixing up a paste to paint my message on a sheet of cardboard: ANC: TELL ZUMA TO GO! (I have to confess to those who found strange traces of cadmium red on their clothes after the Gardens rally that it might have been badly mixed paint from my poster.)
A large crowd gathered at the Gardens, and although it was about 92% white, Mpho Tutu, daughter of the Arch, gave the people a strong message; ‘We choose our leaders, and we can send them away’.
Posters read, PAY ZUMA TO GO, THEN JAIL HIM FOR CORRUPTION.
WE NEED LEADERS, NOT LOOTERS. THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN. ZUMA MUST GO. GIVE ZUMA TO THE GUPTAS FOR CHRISTMAS.
The final issue of the Mail & Guardian for 2015 headlined the front page ‘People Power: the year we put statues and presidents in their place’.
I don’t think our president is quite in his place yet, unfortunately, but It did seem that 21 years after the coming of democracy, public protest, once a powerful factor in carrying the voices on the street to the ears of those in power, was again in action.
I hope it is a trend that will continue. And perhaps as artists, we should also think about taking back some power that we have given over to the uncaring State in the field of culture. We could start by reminding the Department of Arts & Culture that they cannot continue trying to get a Venice Biennale show together at the last minute. The next Biennale is only 18 months away, and it is time to start planning now. Curatorial calls should go out by April 2016 with two to three months for proposals, and then a consideration of those proposals by not only the DAC but also a properly appointed committee of independent art professionals. Email Andries Oberholzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let him know what we think.
And in the meantime, Happy New Year.