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Nude art student’s work stripped from show

Local

The exhibition of a student artist has been pulled from a Franschhoek gallery after she posed nude and tore pages from a Bible.

Celeste Coetzee shocked onlookers by going naked as part of her art installation at the Unisa Final Year Student Exhibition at The Gallery at Grande Provence in Franschhoek.

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24112011 NUUS Celeste Coetzee het kontroversie ontlok by die jaarlikse Unisa Finalejaarskunsuitstalling by die Grande Provence Wynlandgoed buite Franschhoek. Celeste Coetzee gebruik identiteitskeppende handeling wat die persona van die Wit Afrikanervrou aangeneem het en verbeeld dit in 'n lewendige installasiekunsstuk getiteld BRUID. Haar stuk bevraagteken hoe boere blanke Afrikanervrouend in 'n leefwêreld geplaas word en haar moet uitleef as ‘n voorskriftelike skepsel, wat volgens die riglyne van hierdie patriargie optree, wat weer op sy beurt handel volgens die voorskrifte van die God van Nasionalisme en Calvinisme, as elemente van die Afrikaner Nasionalistiese ideologie. Sy fokus met haar werk op geslags-onderdrukking, waar dié ideologie doelbewus aangewend word as ‘n instrument om sosiale heerskappy uit te oefen, en waar konkrete strategieë toegepas word om strukture van dominansie in plek te hou. Sy spreek haar veral sterk uit teenoor die verkondigings van Angus Buchan wat op tydens sy Mighty Men-saamtrekke die belangrikheid van die man se rol as leier in die huis verkondig. foto: Jaco Marais/Raport

Coetzee, who was making a statement about the suffering of women in a patriarchal society, had also used the exhibition to criticise evangelist and Faith Like Potatoes author Angus Buchan.

Coetzee refused to comment yesterday, saying she would respond to e-mailed questions within a few days.

The Gallery curator Carina Bekker decided yesterday to remove Coetzee’s work from the exhibition, saying the information the artist gave her about her work “didn’t relate to what she did”.

It had been agreed that Coetzee would pose inside her installation, bare-breasted and wearing just a skirt.

She instead arrived for the exhibition’s opening dressed in traditional Voortrekker clothing.

Bekker said Coetzee had intended to look vulnerable, but looked “scary”.

But by losing her vulnerability she had distorted the meaning of the work, she said. On Wednesday and Thursday last week she had posed nude inside the installation.

“She went from the one opposite to the other opposite.”

It was because of these “inconsistencies” that the installation had been cancelled, Bekker said.

Photographs show Coetzee seated on a stool, wearing a traditional Voortrekker style hat and stockings with her hands clutched in her lap.

She appeared to be seated in an old-fashioned kitchen, among potatoes, with messages on the wall behind her. One such message read: “Wives, respect your husbands, submit to your husbands.”

She also tore pages from a Bible.

“I am completely against tearing pages out of the Bible. I will not tolerate that she tore pages out of the Bible,” Bekker said.

She said The Gallery had received a lot of “negative feedback” from members of the public who attended the exhibition.

“As a gallery, that’s not the message we want to portray. She’s very negative to the old Afrikaner, Christian patriarchal system. She was trying to be the vulnerable woman suffering under the system. But women are not under that system anymore.”

Bekker said it was women who had been offended by Coetzee’s installation. - Cape Times

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