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Falling and Rising: In the Wake of Cecil John Rhodes

Garb, T; (2019) Falling and Rising: In the Wake of Cecil John Rhodes. Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art , 2019 (44) pp. 24-37. 10.1215/10757163-7547418. Green open access

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Abstract

In this article the author produces a reading of two iconic photographs that register the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from its plinth at the University of Cape Town in April 2015. Produced respectively by documentary photographer David Goldblatt (1930–2018) and performance/visual artist Sethembile Msezane (b. 1991), these complex images represent different generational and aesthetic perspectives as well as competing political positions. Goldblatt’s work stands as a melancholic meditation on the destruction of monuments, consistent with his life’s work as a realist dedicated to preserving and witnessing political and social injustice as well as critiquing apartheid-era censorship and systematic erasure of evidence. Msezane’s embodied rebuttal to colonial and patriarchal figurations of power proffers an alternative vision of the event in which new subjectivities appear to rise as the discredited ones of the past are removed. The photographs themselves exceed the avowed political platforms of their authors and betray some of the pitfalls, as well as the potential, of the moment, which the author seeks to trace in these two extraordinary documents of an event.

Type: Article
Title: Falling and Rising: In the Wake of Cecil John Rhodes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1215/10757163-7547418
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-7547418
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Cecil John Rhodes, David Goldblatt, Sethembile Msezane, photography, removal of statues
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083347
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