ŉ Neo-Marxistiese interpretasie van die werke van twee Suid-Afrikaanse kunstenaars, Gavin Jantjes en Santu Mofokeng
Liebenberg, Ilse Kristina
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In this dissertation, the influence of the racially based ideological following of apartheid on the art conception of two South African artists, Gavin Jantjes (born 1948) and Santu Mofokeng (born 1956), is researched comparatively. It is done with reference to an analysis and interpretation of selected works from Jantjes‟s series A South African Colouring Book (1974-1975) and Mofokeng‟s Billboards (1991). In these series, the works of art are regarded as resistance art because they artistically criticise the manner in which the South African society was influenced by the promotion of the apartheid ideology by the erstwhile National Party (NP). Jantjes's works were created from an experiential conception of the apartheid dispensation, while the majority of Mofokeng's works were created in a democratic dispensation and consequently from recollections of the manner in which apartheid affected the lives of South Africans. The research for this dissertation falls within the theoretical framework of the neo-Marxist philosophy, as the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School provides the most comprehensive theoretical framework for research on the affliction of humanity and the injustices done to people not belonging to the self- or in-group, but who form part of the so-called out-group. In neo-Marxist terms, this other or out-group is referred to as das Nichtidentische – the non-identical – those who are not or do not look like the self-group. Although neo-Marxism focuses on das Nichtidentische in the context of the persecution of Jews during the Second World War (1939-1945), this theory provides a meaningful methodological dialectic for the interpretation of Jantjes and Mofokeng's works. Additionally, the neo-Marxists place an important premium on the role art plays in oppressive communities on the one hand, and on the other hand, the role art can play in the recovery of individuals harmed by potentates in suppressive communities. Applied to the South African context, this study focuses on the complex manner in which the artworks of Jantjes and Mofokeng respectively expose the unequal political and socio-cultural power relationships in an erstwhile colonial and apartheid South Africa. Such research also elucidates the complexity of how these ideological communities affected and still affect the art conception of Jantjes and Mofokeng from an experiential and recollection perspective, even after unequal power relationships have been eradicated in a democratic dispensation. In this regard, the neo-Marxists refer to the dual character of art, which makes the existence of the social truth content (Gehalt) in works of art possible. I argue that the social truth content of works of art can provide a voice to the suffering of victims and that art therefore can fulfill a therapeutic role in communities that have been harmed by the abuse of power.
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