View on South Africa in past and present: David Goldblatt, Kendell Geers and Zapiro

View on South Africa in past and present: David Goldblatt, Kendell Geers and Zapiro


About one week ago a strike began at a platinum mine in South African Marikana. The striking miners demanding a higher pay for their perilous work. But the dispute turned violent – within 8 days 44 people were killed. The „Marikana massacre“ is the worst since end of Apartheid in 1994. In South Africa violence is an inherent part of social protests. The strike was not only about the wages of the workers – with the end of Apartheid the African-American population of South Africa hoped for better conditions but today the gap between the rich and the poor is bigger than in times of Apartheid.

This very day the aftermath of Apartheid is still in the South African system and its society. Thats why artists dealt not only in the past with South African history and the situation in the country but also in the present – both you can see in the exhibition NEWTOPIA: The State of Human Rights.

The South African artist David Goldblatt experienced the Apartheid regime himself. In NEWTOPIA his photographical series „Fietas“ is shown. The neighborhood of Johannesburg ´Pageview` – called „Fietas“ by its residents – was a suburb which was reserved for „people of colour“: Africans, Coloureds and Indians, none of  them had the right to vote. Later only the Indians were allowed to live here, because on the pretext of public health and slum clearance African and coloured people had to move. The apartheid government declared Pageview/Fietas 1956 a White Group Area. That’s why the Indian people of Fietas stayed here by using every loophole in the law until police invited the area in 1977. David Goldblatt took the photographs of the series in these last years of Fietas. Afterwards the houses and shops in Fietas were destroyed and new buildings were built for Whites.

Katerina Gregos about David Goldblatt:


One of the first anti-apartheid activists was the artist Kendell Geers. For NEWTOPIA he invited other artists who have somehow had experiences of oppressive regimes or who are coming from areas where human rights are still a particularly contested issue such as Ai Weiwei (China), Marina Abramović (Belgrade) or Zapiro (South Africa) who is the most famous political cartoonist in South Africa. In his cartoons he critically deals with current incidents in South Africa, for example with the mine strike in Marikana: LONMIN mine tragedy: The Farlam Inquiry into the Truth  – Cartoon.
Under this point of view it is no suprise that Kendell Geers and his invited artists are in the Utopian Chapter of the exhibition NEWTOPIA: The State of Human Rights.

Katerina Gregos about Geers and all artists he invited to join the NEWTOPIA exhibition:

And here an visual impression from his work at NEWTOPIA:

(c) Kristof Vrancken.