Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma is the subject of another painting in which his genitals are depicted in an artist’s view of South African society – this time Ayanda Mabulu‘s The Pornography of Power.
“It’s about the situation that we are in in the country,” said Mabulu, 33.
“There is no more time to decide to try and beat around the bush when you are painting. I made it my journey to paint and write and talk about what’s happening in our society.”
Mabulu, who is based at the Bag Factory artist studios in Johannesburg, is not the first to depict the president’s genitals as social commentary. Artist Brett Murray’s The Spear had paint thrown at it, and was the subject of an urgent court application by the ANC, which was outraged by it.
It sparked a call by some in the ANC to boycott City Press. The newspaper published a picture of it in May 2012, but subsequently took it off its website.
Mabulu explained that this work expressed many of the ideas of Steve Biko and Franz Fanon, and of the slave “trainer” Willie Lynch.
“I am talking about being fucked. We are being fucked by parliamentarians, we are being molested,” he said.
He said the teddy bear Zuma holds behind his back signifies the age of the child – South Africa’s young democracy. The child is being raped, has a saddle to symbolise a slave being tamed so that it can be of use to the economy, and is being violated from behind by a hyena, which symbolises mining and commercial giants.
The child is being milked. The milk runs into a can with the ANC’s logo on it. The American and British colonial-era clothes are intended to show that power is still in the hands of people in power before apartheid.
He added that the president was, “taking pleasure at the same time, laughing like a hyena”.
The circus tent in the painting has the ANC symbol on it.
To see the full painting, click here (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT).
‘A laughing stock’
“Anything happening to ordinary citizens in society has become a laughing stock. Any party that goes to Parliament, and questions these motherfuckers, they laugh.”
Mabulu, who has put his feelings about the Marikana shootings to canvas before, said the child at the centre of the painting is bending over from hunger and is submissive.
“She can’t breathe. She is forced to have direct eye contact with the president in many ways,” he explained.
“It is a big problem that we are facing in this country. How else can we talk about this as artists?”
Charl Bezuidenhout, of World Art Gallery in Cape Town, said artists like Mabulu and Khaya Witbooi were not necessarily aiming their work at Zuma, but showing a deeper understanding of the country’s problems.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party had been wrapped up in its National General Council discussions so he had not had time to look at the painting.
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