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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

5 - The Art of Recognition

from Part I - Recognising Transitional Justice in the Nation State


Chapter 5, The Art of Recognition, explores three dominant narratives which emerge from the art collection of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. These are narratives which recognise people, community, and time as key to the project of justice and democracy in South Africa. Drawing on interviews with artists and viewers, I conduct a visual analysis of artworks by the Bambanani Women’s Group, Marlene Dumas, Dumile Feni, David Goldblatt, Judith Mason, Thomas Mulcaire, Sipho Ndlovu, Georgia Papageorge and Sue Williamson. I argue that the three narratives which emerge from the art collection play a central role in shaping the Court’s larger transitional justice story. They draw attention to how the impossibility of attaining universal justice, is what drives justice practices and the enactment of human rights for particular people and communities at particular times.