17 September 2018

South Africa: Graeme Williams Vs Hank Willis Thomas - Acceptable Artistic Appropriation - or Just Plain Old Theft?

analysis

A prominent American artist has been accused of stealing and profiting from an image taken by a South African photographer in 1990, weeks after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The image of a group of black children taunting armed white policemen symbolised the sudden shift of power in the country in the final days of apartheid. Photographer Graeme Williams was astounded to see his photograph, massively enlarged and drained of colour, in a work signed by Hank Willis Thomas and exhibited at the Johannesburg Art Fair.

In the muted, murky colours of the vintage photograph, young black kids are kicking up their legs in a loose-limbed and joyous adaption of the toyi-toyi, the southern African liberation movement march/dance/statement. They are dressed in an array of possibly hand-me-down clothes and oversized, weary shoes except for the child leading this little band; he is barefoot. Another of the boys is leaning back as he dances along, looking up at a squad of young men dressed in dull blue uniforms. The policemen sit atop a giant armoured vehicle; most of them are looking off to the right. They do not look like they are about to break out in dance any time...

South Africa

Wolves At VBS Bank's Door - Mahikeng Wants Its R84m Investment Back

The Mahikeng Local Municipality has launched an urgent Limpopo High Court bid to have VBS Mutual Bank liquidated as it… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Daily Maverick. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.