Art lovers of all kinds gathered at the University of the Free State’s Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery on the cool Wednesday evening of 23 August 2017 for the opening ceremony of the Art of Human Rights exhibition, writes Thato Rossouw.
The exhibition is a project that was started by Art for Humanity – which is the Durban based organisation that advocates and educates about Human Rights through the Arts in South Africa and beyond.
It brought together 27 South African artists and 27 poets with the intention of having them reflect and respond to the 27 clauses of the South African Bill of Rights, and features both images and poems displayed next to each other on the walls of the gallery.
Called to deliver the opening speech for the exhibition was Director of Art for Humanity, Jan Jordaan, who, after a brief introduction by the gallery’s curator Angela De Jesus, walked up to the podium to give the gathered audience a detailed history of not only his own development in the visual art industry, but also that of the organisation which had brought them all together.
Amongst the many anecdotes he shared on the podium, Jordaan also shared the fact that the exhibition was part of a multi-faceted project that was initiated by Art for Humanity and that it is the fifth of its kind to be organised by them. The first of these projects, as mentioned on the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, was the Images of Human Rights portfolio, which was published by the organisation back in 1996.
The project is also aimed at achieving Art for Humanity’s objectives of using visual arts to promote a Human Rights Consciousness, and empowering visual arts and artists from Southern Africa and the developing world to become human rights champions.
Furthermore, it aims to make the South African Bill of Rights more visible to the greater South African public and learners in schools, by highlighting the belief that, as once stated by Justice Cameron, the Constitution is still our best hope for a shared future of mutual respect and equality.
The exhibition also has an accompanying catalogue which contains articles from people such as Dr Ahmen Kathrada, Prof. Ahmed Bawa and Prof. Thengani H. Ngweny, to name a few, and also features the biographies of all the poets and visual artists who contributed to the exhibition. This catalogue can be bought at the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition for just R100.00.
It will be running weekdays from 08:30 to 16:30, until 22 September 2017. Everyone who is interested in issues concerning Human Rights and the South African Bill of Rights is encouraged to go to the gallery to experience for themselves the wonderful work on display.
Thato Rossouw is the Senior Writer of ART STATE. He tweets as @Thato_Rossouw
PICTURE: Afrikaner Circa 2014 by Andries Botha