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

6 - The Visual Jurisprudence of Transition

from Part I - Recognising Transitional Justice in the Nation State


Chapter 6, The Visual Jurisprudence of Transition, theorises the Constitutional Court of South Africa’s art collection as a new kind of visual jurisprudence—the philosophy of the visual in law. I analyse the ways in which people, especially judges, talk about the art collection in order to show how artworks at the Court become central to the bodies of aesthetic knowledge that shape the appearance of justice and that shape how justice is understood. I argue that the artworks at the Court engage the moral imagination—a position which intersects with the debate in human rights scholarship over whether moral discourse or sentimental education is more effective in promoting respect for rights. In such close proximity to the Court, the art collection inhabits a unique position in which the assumptions of justice (and Justices) and what it means to uphold the Constitution can be probed. This creates a visual jurisprudence that reflects both the values which underpin the Court as well as the ways of practicing justice in post-apartheid South Africa.