First it was Brett Murray whose portrait of President Jacob Zuma with his penis exposed was later destroyed at the Goodman (Badmab?) Gallery (thank God to those two folks whose charges were later withdrawn) who claimed (don’t all artists?) he was expressing his artistic freedom of expression. Ag man, expression se moer!
What the hell is wrong with our now so-called artists and their obsession with Zuma’s dick? Are they so obsessed and mesmerised by it (as if they’ve seen it before) that they now want to touch it, maybe? Oops.
Murray’s portrait was first reviewed by City Press in May this year which had caused a lot of noise – leading to a protest march by the president’s supporters. Following a meeting between the ruling party’s leadership and the newspaper editor, Ferial Haffajee – the picture was then removed from the newspaper’s web site.
The Film and Publications Board later restricted Murray’s portrait to children not under the age of 16. Of course not many people were happy with FPB’s decision. Phillip de Vet of Mail & Guardian was not impressed by the decision, saying “If the FPB’s decision ever makes it to judicial review before a high court (which it shouldn’t, if internal appeal mechanisms work as advertised), the judgment will be harsh. The board has stepped well outside its mandate, ignored both its founding legislation and the Constitution and conducted a process fraught with procedural irregularities.” In June the newspaper gave an analysis of a number of controversial art works. FPB decision was followed by a cartoon in Murray’s web site.
Criticising Murray for the painting, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told M&G on May 29 that the ruling party was (through its protests) going to send a “clear” message to everyone that “You can criticise President [Jacob] Zuma all you like but you can’t and never will be allowed to violate his dignity”. This at the time Zuma and the party, also supported by his children, were seeking a court interdict against the Badman Gallery and City Press for the painting to be removed because it allegedly violated the president’s right to privacy and dignity. The ANC Women’s League also came out with its guns blazing, accusing Murray at the time, of having “taken his attempts at satire too far”, adding that “he clearly does not understand the reasons for the public outcry over “The Spear” and why it was hurtful to so many people”.
Cartoonist Zapiro also drew a penis on M&G on July 16 seemingly supporting Murray’s portrait which the women’s league saw as “showing his disregard for the healing process which is currently underway in South Africa after the divisive era before democracy”.The league accused Zapiro of having “gone from being a sometimes controversial, yet relevant satirist to [being] a sensationalist arbiter of attention seeking proper gander released purely for its shock appeal, and serves absolutely no purpose in society”.
It said the cartoon was a declaration of the cartoonist’s “hatred for South Africans with this insult to the President, of not only the ANC but the entire country”. As noted in my blog post on July 6, the timing was bad considering that Zuma was due to address a massive of massive delegation of women from across all sectors of society who were deeply disgusted by this terrible portrayal of him, said the league.
Enter Umshini Wam painting
Now our own Ayanda Mabulu’s could not help himself. Like artists before him, Mabulu seemingly could not get enough of Zuma’s penis such that he also drew the President in a Zulu cultural costume with his dick exposed. Again. Titled “Umshini Wam” and displayed at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town during Our Fathers exhibition – Mabulu defended the exhibition. Mabulu was quoted in The Star newspaper saying the painting had depicted Zuma respectfully. What the hell? Trying to justify the painting, the artist said at least his painting had Zuma “clothed in his culture”, that his manhood was also clothed. “He is clothed in his manhood. He is not naked,” he was quoted as saying. The painting is priced at R75 000 reported M&G Online on Tuesday this week. The exhibition, curated by Kirsty Cockerill and Chantal Louw, will also feature work from 24 artists including Mabulu and Brett Murray.
Keith Khoza, also ANC spokesperson, condemned Mabulu’s painting in the “strongest terms” because it was “disrespectful” to the president, M&G Online reported. According to Khoza the painting “makes a mockery of the president’s office, his status as a father and a husband, and is an absolute abuse of the arts.” He said the party was still considering the Umshini Wam painting. He added however did not rule out a reaction similar to the ANC’s response to Murray’s The Spear, saying “we will certainly be taking this up with our structures. This type of thing should not be allowed”.
Khoza further told M&G Online the ANC was of the view that the art piece could not be excused under the pretext of artistic impression, saying: “If a man finds it necessary and artistic to portray nakedness, why doesn’t he reveal and paint his own manhood? Then we could consider thinking about this artistically”.
Mabulu claimed to “respect the ANC liberation elders” because “they worked for the interests of the people”. He further accused the ANC of today of being “filled with greed and the lust of capitalism”, that “You are reacting defensively; you are saying you are being attacked. I’m not attacking you; I’m respectfully asking a question”.
Arts and culture spokesperson, Percy Mthimkhulu, told M&G Online they (as a department) had not seen Mabulu’s painting but “will comment if we choose to do so”. Cosatu’s Patrick Craven reportedly said the painting was “not only deeply offensive to the president personally, but to his family and all South Africans, regardless of their position”.
Could it be that these poor artists wished they had a dick as Zuma’s (whatever shape or size) because they are so obsessed with it it seems they think about it every second of every minute of every hour of every day of their bloody miserable dickless lives?