The Spear (painting)


Artist: Brett Murray

Year: 2012

Date of Action: May 2012

Region: Africa

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Painting

Confronting Bodies: African National Congress (ANC)

Description of Artwork: The painting depicts South African President Jacob Zuma in a classic Lenin pose, but with exposed genitalia.

The Incident: Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order to have the painting removed from the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg but two men took matters into their own hands by defacing the portrait with gobs of paint.

Zuma, who has a reputation for promiscuity, took the depiction very personally and compared himself to a rape victim. Zuma himself was put on trial for rape, and acquitted, in 2006.

The ANC also demanded that a City Press, a newspaper which reported on the show and posted an image of the controversial work, should remove the image from their website.

The two unidentified men, who attacked the painting, are expected to appear in a magistrate's court Thursday on a charge of malicious damage to property.

After the painting was defaced, a third man spray-painted the first three letters of the word "respect" on a wall near the gallery's front gate before he was taken away by police. He, too, will be charged with malicious damage to property. The man shouted that the gallery had shown the president disrespect.

Results of Incident: A full three-judge bench will be hearing the case because "the national interest and constitutional issues are at stake. The tribunal heard oral argument and evidence on 17 September 2012.