When Art Becomes Vandalism

Cape Times (South Africa), August 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

When Art Becomes Vandalism


A 27 year-old artist who wishes to remain anonymous is furious that his artwork has been defaced by the Cape Town municipal authorities because it resembled graffiti-style tagging.

"It is a blatant violation of my art. I was commissioned to make the artwork so how can they just remove it?" asked the young artist. His artwork is one of 33 zebras that the Artscape Theatre Centre claims to be one of Cape Town's largest exhibitions of fine art installations. Artists were given a blank canvas of a sculpture shaped as a zebra to experiment with and be wildly creative in any way they wished.

One zebra artwork had been painted with traditional black and white stripes and then spray- painted with a beautiful abstract blaze of bright red paint giving the artwork a free-hand, post-modern street feel.

But clearly the city authorities thought that someone had defaced the artwork as it resembled tagging so they decided to remove the |artwork without the artist's |permission.

Ironically the installation of zebras was meant to celebrate freedom coinciding with Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday celebrations.

The zebras as individual |artworks appeared across the city with the theme, Not all is black and white. Each artwork has a plaque with a quote by Mandela. Curated by the World for All Foundation, the zebra installation was moved as one herd from varying locations across the city and is now exhibited at the Artscape piazza. Of the stronger works are those by Mark Henning and Hannah Williams of a zebra sawn in half, Beth Armstrong's Andries Bothaesque beautiful war-like sculptural armoured zebra, Bruno Brincat's two-headed zebra and Danielle Ehrlich and Ewaldi Grove's fabulous Gothic winged unicorn zebra woven with black leather and leather tassles. …

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