South Africa

South Africa

GroundUp: Rhodes Must Fall exhibition vandalised in UCT protest

The Rhodes Must Fall Exhibition, “Echoing Voices from Within” was disrupted yesterday by members of the University of Cape Town's Trans Collective, a student led organisation that prioritises the rights of transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex students at the University of Cape Town. By Ashraf Hendricks for GROUNDUP.

Students smeared photographs with red paint and blocked the entrances to the Centre for African Studies Gallery with their painted naked bodies. The exhibition was shut down.

“We will not have our bodies, faces, names, and voices used as bait for public applause” was printed on a pink piece of paper plastered over one of the photographs in the exhibition. Another sheet read: “RMF [Rhodes Must Fall] will not tokenise our presence as if they ever treasured us as part of their movement”.

Photo: Members of the UCT Trans Collective blocked entrances to the exhibition of “Echoing Voices from Within”. The exhibition was eventually shut down. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

“Rhodes Must Fall is a dynamic movement with a very difficult story to tell. At the same time we cannot police people and the way they express themselves,” said Wandile Kasibe, the Rhodes Must Fall Curator of the exhibition. “For me, I think people should be given the opportunity to see the exhibition and make their own decisions.”

Whether the exhibition will be reinstated is still under discussion, as certain photographs have been removed, while others have been covered in red paint.

Photo: “Rapist” was painted over a photograph of Chumani Maxwele throwing human excrement at the Cecil John Rhodes statue on UCT campus last year. Many regard this event as the birth of the Rhodes Must Fall Movement. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

In a statement released a short while ago, the Trans Collective stated that its “role has now evolved into speaking back to RMF and keeping it accountable to its commitment to intersectionality precisely because it is positioned as a black decolonial space.”

Photo: HeJin Kim, a member of the UCT Trans Collective, addresses the crowd outside the gallery. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Trans Collective complained that only three out of more than 1,000 images that ended up making it onto the exhibition roll featured a trans person’s face. DM

Main photo: Curator of the Centre for African Studies Gallery Paul Weinberg asks a member of the Trans Collective to stop the disruption. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

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