The artwork by Dean Hutton (right) on display at the South African National Gallery
The Cape Party is silencing black voices over its protest of the controversial F*** White People exhibit, suggests genderqueer artist, Dean Hutton.

Judgment in the case between the Iziko SA National Gallery and the party over the artwork will be made on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the party opened a civil case against Iziko, claiming the museum’s Art of Disruption exhibit was an incitement to hate speech and perpetuates violence towards white people.

The work, by UCT Fine Arts Masters student Hutton, 41, came to light during last year’s #FeesMustFall protests. At the time, Hutton, a gender binary freelance photographer who identifies as a “they” rather than male or female, captured an image of Zama Mthunzi wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the text “F*** White People” on the back, and “Being black is shi*t” on the front.

Due to the exhibit of the large-scale poster and subsequent publicity surrounding it, Hutton became a victim of online bullying, body shaming and received “hundreds” of death threats.

Hutton has since kept a low social media presence and blocked all comment sections on their social media accounts, even going as far as making their accounts private.

This week, the Art of Disruption exhibition ended.

The Sunday Independent’s sister paper, Weekend Argus, met exclusively with Hutton at their Cape Town studio, where the infamous large-scale poster now takes pride of place of the floor.

Originally from Johannesburg, Hutton relocated to Cape Town last year to further their studies.

“When I was documenting at Wits University, I saw Zama wearing the shirt. Nobody paid attention to the front of the T-shirt, which read “Being Black Is Shit”; people only read the back “F*** White People”.

“White people were obsessed with the back the only time white people get involved is when they are personally offended, it’s only about white feelings.

“But when you look at the issue, it’s all about systemic injustice. White people are so obsessed with trying to prove that there is some kind of reverse racism that affects them in ways,” Hutton said.

Hutton was banned for 30 days on Facebook for posting the picture of the back of Mthunzi’s T-shirt. In reaction to this, the infamous poster was born.

“I am really inspired by what is happening on campuses, it’s the reason I am here. People are demanding more and they are demanding what they deserve. I wouldn’t want to be an artist anywhere else.”

About being a genderqueer artist, Hutton said: “It is what it is. It’s who I am.

“The thing about being queer is that you are constantly becoming It’s a very active identity because being queer is not about who you are but what you do.

“Being queer is being political, it is a political identity for me even more that a gender ultimately, is about understanding how power works. Being queer in spaces creates disruptions that shift power dynamics.”

Hutton added that one of the most important aspects of being queer was being able to understand what your positions are depending on your race.

“White queer people do not face anything near the kind of violence that black queer people face particularly black women.”

Hutton said the work that they do is not about being controversial, but about identity.

“The fact is that I am self-expressing. I make work that is about me and my place in the world. I can’t always get stuck in the thinking that some people think it’s controversial or react in ways that say it’s controversial.

“Surely, if we are living as we are we can make bold statements without being considered somehow deviant.”

And the bold F*** White People poster was not received well by “white rightists”.

Hutton added that the Cape Party’s intentions can be “viewed as a very cynical, publicity stunt to make people aware of a fringe lunatic party”.

“If you go to their (Cape Party) Facebook page, they have shared that image. The thing is, why are they sharing it if they call it hate speech?”

Hutton said the F*** White People poster was a catalyst for conversation, to get people to start dealing with issues of race and inequality.

“Most of my work is about understanding what violence and power do to people and how people strive to dignity. We can choose to ignore what is happening around us or we can choose to get involved, I would rather be active than inactive. My idea is to shift that white people are oppressed.”

Hutton remains unapologetic about the awork that’s garnered so much controversy and negativity. “The work is an artwork which an artwork is protected by the constitution.

“There has not been any judgment from a reliable party that the work constitutes hate speech.”

Currently, Hutton is creating a large-scale poster in response to the hate and online abuse received “particularly from white nationalists.”

“All of these right-wing parties keep trying to prove that there is reverse racism happening and that’s a complete fairy tale. Reverse racism can only exist if you get into a time machine, go back and do to white people what white people did to black people for hundreds of years.”

Weekend Argus