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Decoding Memories; South African Artists at the Constitutional Court of South Africa


This paper examines the decoding of the memory of apartheid and post apartheid years of South Africa’s recent history. And it contextualizes how the struggle influenced the visual arts. Also analyzed are the history of the Constitution and Constitutional Court of South Africa. It interrogates the formation of the Constitutional Court art collection. by Justices Albie Sachs and Yvonne Mokgoro for the yet-to-be-constructed Constitutional Court building in Johannesburg. Many donated artworks are responsive both to the anti-apartheid struggles and also to the new democracy. The essay also examines the underlying politic that now hangs in the Constitutional Court building. Select works, that function as signifiers of the new Constitution, are examined. I draw on interviews with South African artists, Court Justices and curators to investigate the role of memory, the archeology of the site, and the significance of the collection to the artists, the Justices, and citizens of South Africans twenty years post apartheid.

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