Jacob Zuma The Spear | Success of the Century
Controversy has been the order of the day for the past two weeks after a painting by an obscure artist .... named Zuma - The Spear was exhibited in a Johannesburg, South Africa, art gallery. The Spear portrayed the South African president, the honourable Jacob Zuma, with idealised exposed genitalia.
There have been winners and losers created by this whole episode. The artist, the gallery, the buyer and even the constitution are clearly winners, while the ANC emerges as the only loser with egg on their faces.
ANC Objects to The Spear
The ruling political party, the African National Congress and their cohorts in the tripartite alliance (COSATU and SACP) took exception to the painting, claiming it dishonoured and insulted the president and stated it was unacceptable to black African culture for a leader to be portrayed in this manner. The ANC and allied parties demanded the painting be removed from display and destroyed. A protest march was organised for Tuesday this weeks to deliver the demands to the gallery, and a court case initiated to obtain a court order for the painting's removal.
Painting of The Spear Sold then Defaced
While all this was going on, the painting 'The Spear' had been bought by a German art collector on the first day it was on public display. Two days after the furore erupted, the painting was damaged by two members of the public, a white male and a black male. The white man crossed out the face of the president with red paint, while the black man covered the depiction of the president's genitalia with black paint...
Protest March Notorious only by it's Failure
The protest march to the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday can only be considered a failure for the ANC. The anticipated number of participants in the march, fourteen thousand, never materialised and the march consisted of only around four thousand (4000) protesters. Clearly South Africans have more things on their mind than mediocre art. Things like the economy, cost of living, poverty and unemployment are evidently of more concern than objecting to some satiric artwork...
President Zuma Remains Silent
Notably, the honourable president Jacob Zuma has refrained from voicing an opinion on the painting. Well done Mr Zuma, your reticence on the matter is noteworthy and a credit to your stature as a leader of nations.
Personally, this correspondent is of the opinion the president had a private chuckle over the representation of himself. President Zuma after all is noted for his sense of humour. Additionally, the President is a Zulu amadoda (Zulu word for man). The Zulu people are a nation with strong cultural pride in manhood, and the painting definitely portrays the president as being a very well endowed man. Any Zulu man (outside of high office) would be proud to have such endowment. (It is entirely possible the artist had intended to honour the President by giving him such endowment).
Winners in The Spear Saga
The furore over the painting 'The Spear' created a great deal of publicity for the various parties involved in the controversy. Photos of the painting went viral on Facebook within days, and the damage done by the two members of the public just boosted it's renown.
The Painting 'The Spear'
This simplistic rendition which is not much more than a satirical political cartoon inspired by a famous painting of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin that was displayed on posters throughout the old Soviet Union suddenly achieves overnight fame and value. Had the ANC and their cohorts not made such a fuss it would have lingered in obscurity in some collectors personal gallery and been quickly forgotten. Now it will be in high demand by collectors and investors.
The Spear's Buyer - The Biggest Winner
Definitely the buyer emerged as the biggest winner. He purchased the painting for R136000, a paltry sum in Euro terms. Two weeks later the owner can now reasonably expect to receive 100 or even 1000 times that value. Well done ANC, you have finally achieved a great success story amid all the recent failures - Despite destroying the economy of the nation you govern, you have managed to create one instant multi-millionaire - A citizen of one of the same European Nations you are always criticising and condemning. Congratulations!
The Spear's Artist - Another Winner
The Spear's artist whose work at best can only be described as mediocre modernistic trash gets thrown under the international spotlight The publicity has sky-rocketed the artist from relative obscurity to world renowned overnight. No doubt he will see a massive jump in the prices offered for his artwork in future, far in excess of anything he could have been expected to receive for his obscure run of the mill workmanship had this publicity event not occurred.
The Goodman Gallery, the small privately owned art gallery where The Spear was put on public display has become known world wide. This along with the controversy can only be god for future business
Freedom of Expression and Constitution are Winners
The Constitution of South Africa and the Right to Freedom of Expression takes a win as well. Although the matter never went to court after the matter was settled in out of court negotiations between the ANC and owners of the Goodman Gallery, The mere fact that South Africans have the right to create, display and sell such items of artistic expression proves our constitution is one of the best and the free-est in the world today.
The Right to protest and disagree was also a winner. The ANC and all who found the painting offensive were able to voice and display their objections to the world, in a free and public forum...
The Losers in The Spear Saga
The ANC emerge as the only Losers in The Spear Saga
The political organisation the African National Congress has become can only be considered losers in this whole episode. They will argue they achieved their aims by gaining an apology form the Goodman Gallery and the City Press newspaper... Small reward maybe that is not over-shadowed by the losses
The ANC's intention to prevent this image of the president being seen backfired dismally - had they not made a fuss the painting would at worst have been seen by a handful of people - readers of the City Press newspaper and so on. Now of course numerous millions of people have seen it in every nation of the world with Internet access...
And Now, Comrades???