Surprisingly, Painting of South African President's Penis Creates Controversy

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Apparently suggesting that the ruling party in South Africa is corrupt is fine as long as you don't make a mockery out of President Jacob Zuma's penis. 

You see, there's a collection of works called "Hail to the Thief" being shown at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, and according to Reuters' Peroshni Govender one image, by artist Brett Murray, goes a little too far in exposing Zuma. "The African National Congress wants the Goodman Gallery to remove a painting of Zuma called 'The Spear', which depicts the president with his genitals exposed, and another work that has a 'For Sale' sign superimposed over the party logo," reports Reuters. It's a little silly, yes, and considering the types of artistic outrage that galleries have experienced over controversial pieces of art--maybe we shouldn't be laughing. 

"It's making a mockery of the highest office," ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told Reuters. Mthembu said the artist was within his rights to express himself but said "The Spear" was "vulgar" and ridiculed President Zuma's stature. You'd think since Mthembu felt so strongly, he'd have the whole collection banned right?  After all, isn't the whole collection pretty much ridiculing the president? 

Obviously (thankfully?), the gallery isn't stepping down. "We feel it is censorship to take the image down,” gallery spokeswoman Lara Koseff said in a report from The Mail & Guardian.  Gallery director, Liza Essers, added: "It is a sad day for South Africa when creative production is being threatened with censorship from our ruling party."

And people like it! Reuters is reporting it's already been sold!

Photo via: Goodman Gallery


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.