Local artist Haroon Gunn-Salie’s riveting work Senzenina, capturing the ghosts of those slain in the Marikana Massacre, will be among an elite group of work displayed in London’s Regent’s Park next month.
The sculptures depict haunting images of striking Marikana mineworkers crouching vulnerably on the ground, before police shot dead 34 and wounded at least 78 in a highly publicised massacre on August 16, 2012.
Surrounding the sculptures are sounds archived from the hour leading up to the massacre.
After police open fire, the sound of workers singing Senzenina engulfs the figures.
Senzenina means “what have we done” in Xhosa and Zulu. Due to logistical difficulties, however, the sound will not accompany the work at the Frieze Sculpture 2018, London’s largest display of outdoor artwork.
Last year, the first-ever summer Frieze Sculpture was a resounding success, with more than 5 million visitors enjoying exceptional sculpture by artists from around the world.
The 2018 edition is as expansive and diverse, so that the public and collectors can experience world-class artwork in the English Gardens, designed by Markham Nesfield in 1866. Works by 25 contemporary and modern artists, presented by world-leading galleries, including SA’s Goodman Gallery, which represents Gunn-Salie, will be showcased.
Entrance to Frieze Sculpture is free to the public.
“The work was immensely well received in New York as part of the New Museum’s fourth triennial,” Gunn-Salie said.
“I’m very grateful that this has come so quickly after that. I feel it’s almost like the ultimate goal which I had for the work, which would be to take it to a forum like this… Which I think is humbling and quite an honour.”
The work is also being fittingly shown in London, the base of Marikana platinum mine operator Lonmin.
“This is also an opportunity to take the unresolved issues to their doorstep and it’s the next step of mobilisation, I believe.
“This moment in 2012 really was a huge turning point for us. And somehow this turning point has not been concluded, it is completely unresolved, there is no justice. To present the ghosts of the miners who were killed is presenting the unresolved nature of where we are as a country and as a nation,” Gunn-Salie said.
Senzenina would also resonate with other working-class struggles around the globe, he said. Parts of the work will be displayed locally in the next few months, he added.
Other artists whose work will be included in the 2018 edition include Larry Achiampong, John Baldessari, Rana Begum, Yoan Capote, James Capper, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tracey Emin, Tim Etchells, Rachel Feinstein, Barry Flanagan and Laura Ford.
Curator Clare Lilley said she hoped the exhibition would give pause for thought and that visitors to Regent’s Park would have a snapshot of the imagination of artists and variety of sculpture being made today.
“Artists of different generations and from across the world - including a strong female contribution - will come together and explore multiple concepts, spanning political and architectural ideas, animal forms and material experimentation,” Lilley said.
The works will be on display from July 4 until October 7.