South Africa

GroundUp: This is probably the list of artworks UCT has removed

By GroundUp 26 April 2017

The university claims there are errors in our list that we obtained from a reliable source, but refuses to provide corrections. By Natalie Pertsovsky for GROUNDUP.

First published by GroundUp

Following a long deliberation process, the Artworks Task Team (ATT) of the University of Cape Town (UCT) published a report in February that indicates the pieces of art removed and covered up in the past year will remain off the walls indefinitely.

The report appears to refer to a list of 75 pieces of works that were removed, the names of which GroundUp has received from a confidential source (list included at the bottom of this article) as well as 19 pieces of art determined to be controversial by student representatives on the ATT in 2015. The two lists, which most probably overlap with regards to certain pieces of art, in combination with the 23 works that were destroyed during the Shackville protests in February 2016, leave a gaping hole in UCT’s sizeable collection of artwork as almost 100 pieces will be collecting dust in a storage closet for the foreseeable future.

In response to GroundUp’s request for confirmation of the list of 75 removed works, UCT said that, “the list of the 75 artworks provided by GroundUp is not entirely correct”. However, the university has refused to reveal the titles of the works that are incorrect.

The ATT was started in September 2015 to advise the university’s Works of Art Committee on policy for statues, plaques, and artworks.

In response to criticism of the Task Team in the media, the ATT responded with a “clarification” of its role, distinguishing itself from the Works of Art Committee whom it said is “the body responsible for the development of policy for artworks.”

In the February 2017 report, the ATT published a list of “short- and medium- to long-term recommendations (that) were developed based on the outcomes of the audit of artworks, statues and plaques”. The first short-term recommendation, to be implemented in one year, states:

“The University of Cape Town must keep artworks that were removed from the walls in storage pending a broader consultative process. This consultation may take the form of displays of some of the contested artworks, (in dedicated spaces such as the CAS Gallery), debates and discussions around specific artworks and/or themes. Seminars that may involve artists of ‘contested’ works may also be hosted by the WOAC and other departments in the university around different artworks and symbols.”

It is not clear if this “consultative process” has a time limit for how long the art will be kept in storage.

The report makes it apparent that some of the works were removed for safety reasons while others were removed for political reasons as “part of the transformation agenda” and calls on the Works of Art Committee to make clear the reason for removal.

“The Task Team (ATT) organised a joint meeting with the Works of Art Committee where it supported this initiative but advised that the motives for the removals should be made clear. For example, there needed to be public communication about whether the removals were only a measure for securing assets or if they were part of the transformation agenda. The lack of public communication by the Works of Art Committee incited widespread public speculation that removals amounted to censorship by the (ATT).”

One of the conclusions reached by the team discusses that although “there may not be a problem with individual artworks,” the overall effect of many works creates an unsafe, uncomfortable environment for certain people on campus.

“In our deliberations we found that while there may not be a problem with individual artworks, their cumulative effect, coupled with the lack of a considered curatorial policy, creates a negative feeling amongst some students and staff. We found that currently, UCT does not have a curatorial policy and would need to develop one that is transformation-sensitive.”

Artists of the removed and covered works, including Diane Victor, Edward Tsumele, and Breyten Breytenbach, have publicly spoken out against UCT’s supposed transformation process, which the aforementioned artists regard as censorship.

Breyten Breytenbach’s Hovering Dog has been removed from UCT’s  library.

Photo: Breyten Breytenbach’s Hovering Dog has been removed from UCT’s  library.

In an interview with LitNet in April 2016, Tsumele said: “It is 100% a case of censorship, ironically in a democracy whose Constitution allows for freedom of expression such as through art.”

When asked if South African art that is influenced from overseas trends can be viewed as a form of colonialism or neo-colonialism, Tsumele said: “Society should not attempt to dictate who should influence artists.” Further: “There should never be dictatorship with regard to how artists represent the human condition in their works; whether we agree or do not agree with such representation, it is none of our business as society.”

The report confirms the list of 19 works that were singled out by students on the team, though it does not name the pieces. In response to a query from GroundUp regarding the works, Elijah Moholola, Head Media Liason for UCT said: “(the works) were identified as part of the plan of the ATT to initiate discussions and debates around the contested artworks but such plans were affected by the protest action in February 2016.”

The ATT report states:

“The initial student representatives on the Task Team identified a list of 19 works in 2015 that were deemed to be controversial. Before recommendations could be made, however, the #FeesMustFall protests began, resulting in the closure of the University.”

It goes on to discuss the paintings that were destroyed during protests, without naming them:

“On 16 February 2016, 23 artworks were destroyed on Upper Campus during the Shackville Protests.”

A 2014 article criticising the over- representation of black bodies in negative and often degrading positions in artwork displayed across campus refers to a number of paintings and sculptures, including Willie Bester’s Saartjie Baartman and Diane Victor’s Pasiphae. Many of these were removed or covered up. These two artists are not on the list of 75 that GroundUp received, leading us to believe that the list of 75 is mostly separate from the 19 works. However, the reference to the “portrait of a naked white man, on his lap is a black woman” identifies Breytenbach’s Hovering Dog, which is, in fact, on the list of 75 artworks we received. This indicates that though UCT has said the 19 works identified were not removed because of protest disruption, works identified as part of the list of 19 may also be part of the 75 works that were indeed removed.

Willie Bester by enzo dal verme. Copied for fair use.

 Photo: Willie Bester by enzo dal verme. Copied for fair use.

UCT has declined GroundUp’s request for the identification of the 75 pieces removed, for the identification of the 2015 list of 19 works discerned as “controversial,” and for the identification of the 23 pieces of art destroyed during the Shackville Protests.

In response to GroundUp’s question of whether or not the removal of these pieces of art goes against UCT’s ideals of freedom of expression, the university responded: “UCT continues to uphold freedom of expression as enshrined in the South African Constitution. The removal of the artworks is only a temporary measure while there is ongoing dialogue and debates over creating an institution that is inclusive and reflective of the diversity of the country.” DM

Table of artworks removed

If you find errors in the list below,

please alert GroundUp via

[email protected].

 

Artist

Title

1

Justin Anschutz

Split path

2

Richard Keresemose Baholo

Mandela receives honorary doctorate from UCT

3

Richard Keresemose Baholo

Stop the Killings

4

Esmeralda Brettany

Serialisation

5

Breyten Breytenbach

FG

6

Breyten Breytenbach

Hovering Dog

7

Breyten Breytenbach

SA Angel black/white

8

Robert Broadley

Flowers in a Vase

9

Robert Broadley

Portrait of an Old Man

10

Robert Broadley

Portrait of the artist, Nerine Desmond

11

Robert Broadley

Roses in a Jug

12

Robert Broadley

Roses in a Vase

13

Robert Broadley

Tree in Blossom

14

David Brown

Travelling icon; an artist’s workshop

15

Herbert Coetzee

Portrait of Sir Richard Luyt

16

Christo Coetzee

Untitled (Ping pong balls)

17

Steven Cohen

Five Heads

18

Philip Tennyson Cole

Portrait of an unknown associate

19

Mia Couvaras

Untitled

20

R Daniels

Perversion

21

R Daniels

Pumpkin Aand

22

R Daniels

The Dreamer

23

P de Katow

Portrait of Prof James Cameron

24

Lyndall Gente

World in a Grain of Sand

25

Constance Greaves

Portrait of an African Smoking a Pipe

26

Charles M Horsfall

Portrait of Mrs Evelyn Jagger

27

Pieter Hugo

Dayaba Usman with monkey, Abuja, Nigeria

28

Vusi Khumalo

Township scene

29

Isabella Kneymeyer

A Quick Streamer Sketch, Fish River Canyon

30

Isabella Kneymeyer

Streamer Cross Hatch, Study Luderitz, Namibia

31

Twinki Laubscher

Reclining angel with cat

32

Twinki Laubscher

Seated angel

33

Neville Lewis

Portrait of JC Smuts

34

James MacDonald

Triptych 1 (The Apostles)

35

Antonio Mancini

La Prighiera

36

Edward Mills

Portrait of Alfred Beit

37

W G Parker

Portrait of Sir John Buchanan

38

Henry Pegram

Alfred Beit

39

Michael Pettit

Siegfried’s journey down the Rhine

40

Joshua Reynolds (After)

Duchess of Devonshire

41

Joshua Reynolds (After)

Lady Compton

42

George Crossland Robinson

Portrait of Prof Renicus D Nanta

43

David Rossouw

Sunningdale

44

David Rossouw

Welgevonden

45

Edward Roworth

Portrait of Dr Thomas Benjamin Davie

46

Edward Roworth

Portrait of Prof Theo le Roux

47

Edward Roworth

Portrait of Prof William Ritchie

48

Rupert Shephard

Portrait of JP Duminy

49

Lucky Sibiya

Village Life

50

Pippa Skotnes

The wind in //Kabbo’s sails

51

Christopher Slack

Twenty-four hour service

52

W T Smith

Portrait of Henry Murray

53

Irma Stern

Ballerinas at Practice

54

Irma Stern

Portrait of a Ballerina

55

Irma Stern

Portrait of an African Man Blowing a Horn

56

Mikhael Subotsky

Untitled

57

Mikhael Subotsky

Voter X

58

Hareward Hayes Tresidder

Bowl of Flowers

59

Andrew Tshabangu

Bible and candle, Zola, Soweto

60

Andrew Tshabangu

Trance, Tzaneen

61

Karina Turok

Portrait of Mandela

62

Unknown, Continental School

Figure of a Standing Woman and a Study of an Arm

63

Unknown

Seated Woman and a Study of a Head in Profile and a Hand

64

Hubert von Herkommer

Sir Julius Charles Werhner

65

Robert Heard Whale

(Rev) J Russel

66

John Wheatley

Maidens at Play near Rock

67

John Wheatley

Portrait of Carl Frederick Kolbe

68

John Wheatley

Portrait of Dr E Barnard Fuller

69

John Wheatley

Portrait of JW Jagger

70

John Wheatley

Portrait of WF Fish

71

Sue Williamson

Aminia Cachalia

72

Sue Williamson

Cheryl Carolus

73

Sue Williamson

Helen Joseph

74

Sue Williamson

Mamphela Ramphele

75

Michael Wyeth

Blue Wall

Photo: Left: Willie Bester’s Saartjie Baartman sculpture on UCT. Right: Same sculpture after it was covered up. (Left photo by Flickr user Alan Cordle – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Right photo by GroundUp – CC BY-ND 4.0

Gallery

Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.


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