Blinded by JZ's flash
From the last words of a freedom fighter before he was hanged by the apartheid government to present-day concerns about the tendency in the ruling party to use positions to accumulate wealth, Brett Murray's exhibition is chilling.
Solomon Mahlangu's last words - "Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight" - have been given new meaning by the 100cm x 70cm silk-screen graphic of a silhouetted freedom fighter holding an assault rifle, with these words: "Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the struggle for Chivas Regal, Mercs and Kick-backs - Solomon Mahlangu, 6 April 1979."
Or Polish, with its inscription: "You can't polish a turd" on wood and plastic.
At an exhibition in which pigs, expensive liquor, bling and foreign currency feature prominently, the more common expression: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" deserves a mention. But this expression would not stick with the phallus-theme of the exhibition it is about the manliness of power - and politics.
But I digress.
It is a great pity that The Spear, which brought attention to the exhibition, has also sadly taken away from it.
This particular artwork, the weakest in an exhibition that speaks of corruption, promises broken, the betrayal of the ideals of those who died for freedom, and bad leadership - has dwarfed the other more acerbic pieces.
How wrong you are if you think it is President Jacob Zuma who is the subject of ridicule, humiliation and criticism in Murray's exhibition, Hail to the Thief II.
The entire ruling party leadership, the ANC members who elect the leaders and we, the voters who vote the ruling party into power, are being asked to look around us - and see the South Africa we have created.
It asks if this is what the likes of Mahlangu died for?
Murray's exhibition is a chilling reminder of how the picture never changes - it is what we do that is different.
It is this seeming effortlessness with which Murray can juxtapose the symbols of the struggle for freedom with the symbols of greed that chills and discomforts.
Yesterday, at midday, the Goodman Gallery, which was open to the press for a while, was turning away scores of curious visitors who had planned to spend their lunch hour at the gallery.
The security guard was having a hard time with visitors who got more and more curious the sterner his tone became as he repeated: "We are not open today."
The gallery, which opens only from Tuesday to Saturday, has been busy since The Spear made headlines. It is The Spear that draws people to the gallery.
But they will get the shock of their lives when a different meaning is given to the word "Amandla" and when the symbolism of an arm raised in a clenched fist is given a twist, new meaning.
It will be the "white noise" that screams at you. What does this mean?
How would you interpret it?
This is the exhibition. The Spear is the shield that prevents us from engaging more with the exhibition.
The Spear should have had a shield that covered up the president, so that he is not exposed but exposes what is wrong.