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The president’s genitals have again been exposed in the name of art, this time in the CBD.
Dunoon artist Ayanda Mabulu’s painting, Umshini Wam (Weapon of Mass Destruction), went on display at the AVA Gallery last night as part of the Our Fathers exhibition
The portrait shows the president dancing in traditional Zulu dress. His penis is visible.
Another artist in the exhibition is Brett Murray, whose painting The Spear caused controversy earlier this year for representing Zuma with his genitals exposed.
In a 2010 painting, Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi (Better poor than a rich puppet), Mabulu depicted various leaders, including Zuma, naked.
At the time the painting received limited attention, but was brought back into the limelight in the wake of the controversy over The Spear.
“Our Fathers engages the notion of patriarchy as an emotional economy, as well as a system that promulgates an unequal distribution of power,” reads the exhibition brief.
Mabulu has said the painting is not intended to be offensive or to refer to Zuma’s sex life. With reference to the circumcised penis, he added: “This is a metaphor that shows he is not a boy; he is a man, an elder, a father, a leader.”
The work, however, is critical of the president, says the artist.
“Through this painting I respectfully, as one of [Zuma’s] children, ask my father why he is starving us. Why he is negating his duties to his children, the citizens of South Africa?”
The painting has been dedicated to the victims of the Lonmin massacre.
Co-curator Kirsty Cockerill said all the works in the exhibition had the potential to be controversial.
“Patriarchy is a very complicated and nuanced situation. Multiple streams, angles and interpretations are represented in the exhibition. We need to guard against one work eclipsing the message of the exhibition as a whole,” she said.
ANC officials condemned the painting as a publicity stunt.
Zodwa Magwaza, convenor of the ANC Women’s League, said: “An art gallery is a public space and to put up such a piece there, where children can see it, is just not on.”
Joyce Witbooi, ANC spokeswoman on arts and culture in the Western Cape, said the gallery had “no other drawcard to promote itself or the exhibition, save to imitate the controversy created with the Gauteng display of The Spear. It is now old hat and a lame tactic.”
Cockerill responded: “Our job is merely to facilitate conversations that arise, we don’t go searching for [controversy].”