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Scroll resurrects witch-hunt victims

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TOrollcall 1-7

Kampersrus artist Majak Bredell’s Roll Call, a paper scroll of 18.30m that was created in vindication of the lives and bodies that were broken and burnt during the many centuries of the European witch persecutions, will make its debut at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery on March 6 at 6.30pm.

The scroll that stands 1.53m tall, recounts history in such a way that one is reminded of the Bayeux tapestry. The 52 figures are drawn in graphite, gesso, oil wash, marker, ink charcoal and pastel on a continuous roll of paper. Above and over these figures are inscribed extracts from the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches of 1486 – a treatise on the prosecution of witches), as well as timelines, forms of torture and case histories.

For Bredell the roll is a symbolic restoration of the integrity of the victims – their bodies are whole and no longer broken or burnt.

“While I worked on the scroll, I found myself creating a counter voice to the many voices that contributed to the needless destruction of so many lives that were sacrificed over the centuries in the name of religious dogma, ideology, and theory.”

The exhibition will be opened by Dr Karen von Veh of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture of the University of Johannesburg.

Preparatory studies for Roll Call will be exhibited (March 16 to April 16) at the White River Gallery as part of The Advocacy: Art for Human Rights, with the aim of creating awareness of contemporary witch killings here and other parts of the world.

Roll Call will travel to the Association of Arts in Pretoria in May and the White River Gallery in August.

• See the full scroll at www.trans-end.org.za/ white_cube/ROLL-CALL/.


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