Art South Africa – Winter 2010

Art South Africa coverThe winter 2010 edition of Art South Africa magazine included coverage of the Spier Contemporary exhibition. The article included the following paragraph regarding Nelson’s Column (formerly Aspire) by Chris Swift:

“The site-sensitive exhibition, Spier Contemporary 2010, can be read as a Janus portrait of a threshold moment in South African art. The site- Cape Town City Hall – was deliberately chosen for its transformative value, and its European-styled facade reveals a face lined with both the pain of colonialism and apartheid, and the wisdom of eventual change. Central to the portrait of this Edwardian building in Africa is the balcony from whcih Nelson Mandela delivered his first public speech after his release from prison in 1990. Standing on the balcony today, one realises that the charge of that euphoric moment has given way to the day to day frind on the street below as taxis are boarded and meagre livings are eked out on the markets of the Grand Parade.
From Mandela’s vantage point on the balcony, the perceptive viewer can see an X on the top of Christopher Swift’s sculpture, Aspire, built from the Robben Island maximum security fencing. The X, the mark of the voter that holds out the promise of democracy (and change), is not visible from the street, and while it symbolisesthe aspirations of a once hope-filled nation, its poignant positioning arop a metal tower that alludes to a prison watchtower reveals the reality that little freedom has trickled down to those below.”