Friday, June 1, 2012

Age restriction of 16 on Zuma painting

Age restriction of 16 on Zuma painting
June 1 2012 at 03:08pm
By Shain Germaner

Anyone under the age of 16 should not be allowed to see The Spear.

This was the age restriction imposed upon the controversial artwork by the Film and Publications Board.

After lengthy proceedings earlier this week, the board’s classification committee gave their verdict at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosebank on Friday morning, declaring that anyone wishing to display the piece in South Africa would have to regulate access to persons under the age of 16.

Board chairman, Thoko Mpumlwana, said it was not just the nudity that earned the painting its new rating of 16N, but also the fact that the piece invoked mixed emotion from diverse sections of the South African public.

Parents in South Africa were encouraged to “self-regulate” the image in their homes.

The board was set to engage with its partners, including the Internet Service Providers Association, the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association and the Press Ombudsman to help enforce these decisions.

However, it was Yoliswa Makhasi, a CEO of the board, who said that it would be unlikely that South Africans who chose to display the image online would be prosecuted, despite the intended illegality.


When asked how The Spear was different to other nude artworks, chief operations officer of the board, Mmapula Fisha, said the sheer impact of the piece had separated it from all others.

Fisha said the artwork had had a huge impact on South Africans across the country, causing the Goodman Gallery to close down, the painting to be defaced, resulting in painful emotions of the country’s past to resurface.

The board also confirmed that it was not the government or any political figures who submitted the complaints which triggered the classification.

Earlier this week, the board established that it had no jurisdiction over City Press, and that it was the duty of the Press Ombudsman to deal with the paper.

However, this morning, the board announced that the newspaper was under no obligation to submit any arguments to it (board), and that this was done of its own volition.

Although the physical painting no longer exists, the decision to classify the piece was still required.

“Galleries are not areas prohibited to children,” said Fisha, who chaired the meeting on Tuesday.

“We feel that it really is our duty to classify that portrait.”

It was Goodman Gallery advocate, Matthew Welz, who focused specifically on the depiction of President Jacob Zuma’s genitals in the painting.

“It is not a penis designed to titillate. It is a penis that is part of a political statement,” Welz said.