"The Spear" (2010) Brett Murray and the ANC's defamation lawsuit
In 2012 Brett Murray's "Hail to the Thief" (II) exhibition, something happened. Not only did the inclusion of controversial painting "The Spear" (2010) get vandalised, but from that moment on, the ruling party of South Africa at the time - The ANC (African National Congress) - became more involved in censorship than ever before. But why?
Firstly, the painting. Devoid of the fact the painting was "maliciously" vandalised, the painting portrays the President Jacob Zuma in a powerful political stance reminiscent of Victor Ivanov's propaganda poster "Lenin Lived, Lenin is Alive, Lenin Will Live" (1967) with one difference. Zuma, like all political figures in the world, is not immune to satire, thus, Murray's inclusion of the President's manhood in the painting. But is this satire?
President Zuma is a controversial character himself, his polygamous lifestyle - many wives and girlfriends - at the tender age of 65 is certainly something that could raise eyebrows. Not only that, but Zuma has numerously been in trouble with the law: convicted of rape in 2005 (but acquitted), faced many corruption charges and condemning same-sex marriage.
Many questions are raised here.
1. Is the painting remotely offensive and should it be banned?
2. Have the ANC just "not got it"?
3. Artistic license is one thing, but is painting the President's manhood just a personal attack based on political bias?
4. Should someone in power, such as Zuma, be immune to acts of such artistic interpretation?