Friday, November 20, 2009

Ceramic Work for SA's Constitutional Court.

Exquisite Slave / Popsy / Popsie, Earthenware fired, slipcast Ceramic Sculpture with ceramic decals and gold lustre.

The work above has been accepted into the Constitutional Court’s Art Collection. The Constitutional Court of South Africa is the highest court in South Africa and it’s main function is to deal specifically with constitutional matters. It was born out of the country's first democratic Constitution in 1994. In an acclaimed new building at Constitution Hill, the 11 judges stand guard over the Constitution and protect everyone's human rights.I was privileged to be part of the second last walkabout conducted by Judge Albie Sachs two months ago (he retired last month). He took over ten years to collect the works, the majority of the art works donated by the artists themselves whilst a large number of works were donated by the judge himself.

First Ceramic work to be accepted into the collection.

This is the first ceramic work to be accepted into the Constitutional Court’s Art Collection. They accepted the donation of the work with these kind words “The Artworks committee of the constitutional Court met last week and they are delighted to accept your work 'Exquisite Slave / Popsie / Popsy' into their collection. They felt that the sensitive and humorous way in which you have portrayed difficult human issues is perfect for the collection. The obviously excellent technical standard of the work and the need for ceramic work in the collection made this an easy decision.”

Ceramic Statement's Concept.

This sculpture comments on rape and violence in South African prisons - especially the impact it has on the inmate's masculinity. Sex is never discussed or even spoken about and when it is mentioned, it is referred to as "Daai Ding" (that thing) in Afrikaans. Attractive young men that commit a crime and get sent to prison will have to defend their masculinity by stabbing a warden or another inmate, if they don't, they will require protection and through subtle favours will become someone’s wife / "wyfie". Should they refuse, they could be raped and then their masculinity and respect as a criminal is gone forever anyway. One cannot imagine how it really affects such inmates, especially when they return home to their real wives and kids on release from prison.

The following two quotes appear as ceramics transfers on the base of the ceramic sculpture. They were captured in a South African correctional services report on rape and violence in our prisons.

We are all criminals in here and if I say you are a criminal that means I respect you. But if you have (had) sex (done to you) it's obvious that they will (see) you differently. Even the criminal in you is now gone and you are now a "wyfie" (someone’s wife). There is nothing we can do for (a person who has been raped) and we don't care.

If I allow myself to become a lady, I am going to be a "wyfie" until I finish my sentence. That's definitely sure and that's the truth. Even if I can be transferred to (an) other prison the guys there will know that where I come from, I was so-and-so's wyfie" (wife) and will make sure that I become a wife there.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a problem in South Africa that I was not aware of. I think that posting this on your blog is a great idea. I am from the United States and we have a similar problem in our prisons, I worked with an ex-prison guard and she said it is an epidemic in our system. It seems that not only are prisoners being raped but infected by other prisoners due to unprotected sex with other inmates. The fact that the Constitutional Court of South Africa has accepted this piece into their collection speaks of their awareness of the problem, I think that the next step should be more public awareness of the problem and find a solution. I think that the solution will come through mass awareness.