Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Artistic Oppression Alive and Well in Zimbabwe

I am sick of so – called artists, particularly Tracey Emin who drone on about how their “art” isn’t appreciated in this country. Ms Emin has often repeatedly threatened to leave UK shores for France where she feels her artistic merit would be far more valued. Apparently British people do not appreciate the statement she has made with classics such as “My Bed” or “Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”. Ms Emin should really consider the situation of the recent arrest of Zimbabwean artist Owen Maseko and Voti Thebe, manager of the Bulawayo National Arts Gallery on three charges under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The gallery had just opened an exhibition marking the 27th anniversary of the masscare of the Ndbele people by Robert Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade.

Mr Maseko has been considered a “person of interest” by the Mugabe Government for quite some time, due to the controversial nature of his past work. He must have known that he would face some sort of backlash from the authorities and those who actually take the time to follow the news are no doubt aware of how brutally and unashamedly Mugabe deals with individuals who so much as even throw him the slightest critical glance. I have no doubt that Mr Thebe also considered the possibility of catching the president’s maniacal gaze and end up residing inside a prison cell within a day of the exhibition opening. Yet the exhibition went ahead in the face of this threat.

When pondering the notion of what is art, the likes of Owen Moseko, and even Banksy who risk more than just a reputation in the pursuit of true unleashed self-expression and political statements should be the first names to leap into our minds and pass our lips. Let Ms Emin swan off to another country where should she be better appreciated then the best of luck to her.

Lets not forget however that in these so-called modern civilised times artists in some nations are being censured, imprisoned, and even murdered for daring to speak out through their form.

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