On 4 August 2017, Daily Maverick republished an article in which two artists were quoted in an introductory paragraph. Their quotes were in response to a guest column I published in July on a different media platform, in which I attempted to make sense of why many students and staff may experience the University of Cape Town as racist.
I tried to show how a range of practices and places on our campuses might unwittingly reiterate long-standing tropes of white superiority. Most of the article addressed examples such as language and fluency, role models, and a specific cultural capital. My point was to highlight that even though these practices and symbols are not driven by racist individuals or racist motives, we still need to acknowledge their effects on the experience of staff and students.
In one section of the article, I referenced a series of leading photographers who have produced compelling documentation of the ills of apartheid South Africa. Paul Weinberg has reacted to this section, saying I am in effect accusing him and the others of institutional racism through their works. This could not be further from the truth and I regret that such a misunderstanding could occur.
To be specific:
How UCT takes account of the range of responses to the works of art and their curation will require an explicit discussion about such matters. Last year’s protests delayed the process of convening these discussions. They will take place this semester, including with the artists themselves. DM
Dr Max Price is UCT Vice-Chancellor
Photo: Max Price
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