By Novell Zwangendaba – JOHANNESBURG – The ANC said it is appalled and strongly condemns in the strongest possible terms the “Dead Mandela” painting by Yiull Damaso.
A painting depicting Nelson Mandela as a corpse undergoing an autopsy is causing an uproar in South Africa.
The painting is a modern take of a 17th century Rembrandt painting called “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tripp” which depicts an autopsy being undertaken in front of a group of doctors, reported the Mail and Guardian.
In artist Yiull Damaso’s version, former president Mandela is the cadaver with late Aids orphan Nkosi Johnson performing the autopsy. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and politicians FW de Klerk, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Trevor Manuel, Thabo Mbeki and Helen Zille look on.
This week the Hyde Park shopping centre, where the painting is being housed, received complaints about the work.
“It is in bad taste, disrespectful, and it is an insult and an affront to values of our society,” reads a statement issued by Jackson Mthembu, the ANC National Spokesperson.
“The front-page prominence in the Mail and Guardian of this art which its story is only on page 10 (by any measure of newsworthiness is less significant) adds insult to injury and it is kind of gutter journalism and soulless sensationalism which knows no limit and will exploits
anything to increase its bottom line.”
“In African society it is a foreign act of ubuthakathi (bewitch) to kill a living person and this so called work of art which is also racist. It goes further by violating Tat’ uMandela’s dignity by stripping him naked in the glare of curious onlookers some of whom have seen their apartheid ideals die before them. “
“Mandela is our international icon, respected and celebrated the world over as the source of wisdom and the humanity well from which to drink. He is a man whose ideals would live forever and whom we should cherish and respect and forever hold dear. That is why we are more shocked and disgusted this so called art that depicts a dead Madiba.”
“Why would anyone dream of a dead Madiba? Why would newspapers including the Mail and Guardian put to prominence this work of rubbish in their publication? Why would a respected public space and business site, Hyde Park be a home for the creation of such insulting work to our icon, our leaders and all of us? “
“We strongly condemn the practice and promotion of the freedom of expression and freedom of the arts which knows no bounds and only sees itself as the most supreme freedom that supersedes and tramples other people’s constitutional rights to dignity and privacy, and undermines our values. “
“This unbridled freedom of the media, as evidenced by projection of this so called art in the Mail and Guardian, confirms that the self-regulated print media environment is a recipe for disaster and negates the core values we hold dear as the society as contained in our constitution. “
“We therefore remain resolute and unmoved in our call for an independent arbiter in the form of a Media Appeals Tribunal to monitor, regulate and chastise the kind of gutter, soulless and
disrespectful journalism of Mail and Guardian.” said Mthembu.