Only a few weeks ago did we go through the notion of what satire is. At the time, the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo used the image of the little Syrian boy who had drowned to comment on Europe’s capitalist and so-called Christian values.
So it’s great that today we get to chat about one of South Africa’s own satire comics, Anton Kannemeyer.
In an exhibition that recently opened at the Stevenson in Johannesburg, visitors were treated to an array of offensive and commentary images:
E is for Exhibition takes us deep into Kannemeyer’s thought processes and studio practice, bringing together his range of working methods that include comics, sketches, text-based works and large-scale paintings. Partly autobiographical and resolutely observational, Kannemeyer continues to draw attention to our perceptions of difference, the power of the image and the insidious potential of language.
A part of the exhibition is Anton’s ongoing series, Alphabet of Democracy – a series which first began in 2005 and sees Anton:
chronicling the absurdities of life in the democratic South Africa; his imagery subverts the narrative, history and myth of the ‘rainbow nation’ with acute humour and critique.
The series hit a controversial note this past weekend after Anton created a piece in which he quotes President Jacob Zuma’s explanation of democracy to the National Assembly, 13 September 2012 along with a floating penis over the Union Buildings:
You have more rights because you’re a majority; you have less rights because you’re a minority. That’s how democracy works.
The second image to feature Zuma’s flying penis is ‘R for Respect’. He drew both of them as a response to the protests around Brett Murray’s The Spear and as a f**k you to censorship.
I think that sounds like censorship and not the kind of thing I should do. I think R is for respect, respect for the president’s penis now, and it must be drawn.
Other images in the series include Helen Zille and Oscar Pistorius:
But one image that may get supporters on their toes for other reasons is the one featuring ex-rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen and Jesus, with the latter’s penis very visible. But before you do get all uppity, please note it’s from 2013 and people have already fussed over it.
Anton’s exhibition runs until 13 November and the more flack given to the artist, the better, according to him:
The rainbow nation time is over. The gloves have come off. But I’m not pessimistic. I think the work is positive. Critical analysis is a positive thing to me.
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