To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Chapter 2, Art and Justice in Times of Transition, sets out the theoretical framework for the book. By undertaking a close visual analysis and narrative investigation of one artwork – REwind by Gerhard Marx, Maja Marx and Philip Miller – that addresses the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I unpack four ideas which make art exigent and meaningful to transitional justice, and vice versa. These ideas are about the circulation of political sentiment, the mediation of political agency, the invitation of political encounters, and the invention of political space. I argue that an account of transitional justice without aesthetic dimensions – especially art – is insufficient. Art plays an important role in animating and activating the narratives of individuals so that they take on collective importance. In so doing, the past can be shared so that a new political future can be imagined. Artistic production becomes a radical form of political participation in times of political transition. The chapter concludes with an afterword on power, ethics, and modes of display.
Chapter 9, The Art of Representation, explores the exhibition Imaginary Fact in the 2013 South Africa Pavilion at the International Art Biennale in Venice. Three key narratives about violence emerge from this exhibition: the unresolved violence of apartheid-era crimes; the structural violence of pervasive practices of discrimination; and, the physical violence which people continue to be subjected. I anaylse three artworks which epitomise each narrative: David Kolane’s The Journey, Sue Williamson’s For Thirty Years Next to His Heart, and Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases. I argue that these three narratives are important actions in South Africa’s transition because they warn against the repetition of violence, document the structures of violence, and expose continuing practices of violence in the ‘new’ South Africa.
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.
The book begins with a short introduction to the broad problems and key questions which shape the enquiry. Namely, that an holistic perspective of transitional justice should include legal, social, and cultural measures, within which visual art has an important role. I identify the tendency in transitional justice scholarship which addresses the arts to privilege civil society arts initiatives over state-sponsored ones and to focus on the performing arts over visual art – two gaps which the book begins to fill. I then outline the two-part case study of post-apartheid South African visual art across important national and international institutions, the Constitutional Court of South Arica and the South African Pavilion at the International Art Biennale in Venice. The introduction concludes with a breakdown of the individual chapters and the arguments presented.
Chapter 7, From Banned to Embraced, provides an historical overview of South Africa’s relationship to the International Art Biennale in Venice. In 1968, protests at the Biennale changed how it took place. These changes included banning South Africa from exhibiting: a boycott of the apartheid regime. It was not until 1993, with the prospect of transition from apartheid to democracy, that South Africa was invited back to the Biennale. Through this invitation to exhibit at the Biennale, South Africa was being rewarded for political change. The chapter analyses correspondence between representatives of South Africa and the Biennale in order to chronicle the country’s appearances in the exposition between 1968 and 2013, and to reveal the complex national and international politics and diplomatic negotiations involved in becoming and remaining a member state of the Biennale. I argue that South Africa’s participation continues to be deeply affected by international and national politics; its long absence from the Biennale reverberates through the way in which it represents itself to the international community and establishes itself as a member state of this international organisation.
Chapter 8, Mapping Political Art-Scapes, examines the geo-politics of the International Art Biennale in Venice. It begins by mapping how the Biennale transforms the local city space of Venice into a global art-scape. The Giardini and the Arsenale house the majority of the 85 national pavilions – established member states own art embassies in the Giardini while probationary member states rent exhibition spaces in the Arsenale. Pavilions become proxies through which states present an image of themselves to the international community. I contrast South Africa’s 2013 national pavilion with that of the United Arab Emirates (the two states shared an exhibition space in the Arsenale) in order to show how comparisons between states are forced upon them by virtue of exhibiting in the Biennale. I argue that these art-scapes provide fertile ground for states to offer an image of themselves – images which are not necessarily perceived how states intend.
Chapter 4, Shaping ‘Legal’ Space, examines the spatial politics of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The Court’s architecture and art collection are intended to symbolise the values of the Constitution. I explore five themes critical to justice which are dominant in the discourse of the Court – both in how people speak about the Court and in how the Court portrays itself. Four of these themes refer to values rooted in and fostered by the Constitution (accessibility, equality, dignity, and freedom of expression) while the fifth theme (justice under a tree) relates to a process of South African constitutionalism embedded in regional vernacular and post-apartheid identity formation. I analyse each theme by examining how its material manifestation – specific artworks and architectural features – intervene in the appearance and performance of the Court, shaping how the Constitution is understood in different ways. I argue that these material interventions and the space they create are key to the provision of justice at the Court.
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.
Chapter 10, The Cultural Diplomacy of Imaginary Fact, theorises the exhibition in the 2013 South Africa Pavilion at the International Art Biennale in Venice as a unique instance of cultural diplomacy. Imaginary Fact plays a paradoxical role in the process of nation building because it presents a dual image of a nation struggling with ongoing internal complexities, while projecting a collective narrative of a state that has undergone a difficult transition and come out the other side to re-assert itself in the international community. By examining South Africa’s conception of cultural diplomacy presented in government white papers, I show how the official image of South Africa as a global competitor (a transitioned nation) sits uncomfortably with the artists’ image of South Africa as a transitioning nation circumscribed by ongoing challenges to human rights. I argue that this establishes a glocal (global–local) image of the state which is in tension with South Africa’s foreign policy agenda.
Chapter 3, From Prison to Court, provides an historical account of the Constitutional Court of South Africa as a key institution in the ‘new’ South Africa. Established at the point of transition from apartheid to democracy, the Court was built on the site of several former notorious prisons. The court building is a unique space by international comparison, not only because it has transformed the penal site but because it also incorporates artworks into the fabric of the building, and houses a large visual art collection developed by and for the Court. In order to understand the conceptual and concrete transitions of the Court, I trace its development with a particular focus on the unique policies and processes through which the art collection came into being. By drawing on key policy documents, as well reflections from people involved in the initial development of the Court and those who currently inhabit and manage the Court, I argue that art has been a central component of the most significant institution to emerge out of South Africa’s transition and it continues to be so.
The conclusion outlines the key implications and contributions of the book. Art is a radical form of political participation in times of transition. In South Africa visual art creates new critical spaces of political recognition and representation. Art is embedded in creative state-building, both internally and externally. The state uses visual art from the inside out to reconceptualise the South African justice system, and from the outside in to re-engage the international community with the South African state. The conclusion also addresses two potential criticisms facing the book, namely that what is discussed does not count as transitional justice and whether art really matters in post-conflict settings in the face of urgent human need.