Now as I jot this article that artwork has evolved from being an aggravating work praised as brave and avant-garde to a vandalized artwork following two men who entered the gallery, apparently total strangers to each other, and took turns defacing the painting. While the white man crossed both the face and the genitalia with red paint the black man smeared black paint both on the face, part of the right side of the figure and the genitalia area. While the black man who vandalized the artwork after the white man was the first to be arrested the white man almost fled the gallery uncaught if it weren’t for the press that pointed out he should be also be arrested. I shall stop here with this description of the work and the incident surrounding its defacing lest I lose sight of what I am concerned with here. But I wish to venture that the artwork now has attained a state of a performance piece with the added actions of the two men. Though defaced, it has not lost its gravity as offensive and vulgar. It has now being relegated to a pseudo avant-garde by bourgeois standards but far from kitsch considering its genesis and the new meaning it is pregnant with.
Let us acknowledge that once the artwork goes public and holds its attention the artist is grabbling with external stimuli however the mode within which the artist is grappling with the issues concern shifts and heightens from personal to public. When the ground on which he operates shifts and heightens unfortunately for him He is no longer a private person entitled to their personal views, he speaks to the people for the people. The artist is no longer on a personal journey but he has harnessed the interests of the people. Positively he will be seen as endorsing the interests of those whose values he upholds and negatively he has taken a confrontational stance towards those who are opposed to the ideals reflected in his work. By hook or crook he now represents the ideals of a particular group of the society within which his practicing exists. He is positioned.
A reading of Nadine Gordimer’s short story Country Lovers 1980 reveals that the narrative is about a girl who has an intimate relationship with a white man but due to the situation that the event take place in, she is not a candidate for a long-term relationship with him. For intimate relationships across the colour line in apartheid South Africa were considered immoral and were forbidden. The man does not pursue marriage with her, she becomes his secret girlfriend and when she falls pregnant with his baby he takes the life of their baby away as a way of removing the evidence of what took place between the two of them. A careful reading shows that Thebedi and Paulus relationship’s evolution from a childhood friendship across colour lines as well as master servant-relation to that of secret lovers is ultimately destroyed by the very barriers it seem to elude from the onset.