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02 March 2010

SASFED statement on Minister of Arts & Culture’s reaction to lesbian art exhibit

2 March 2010

SASFED statement on Minister of Arts & Culture’s reaction to lesbian art exhibit

SASFED wishes to express our disappointment and concern at the reported reaction of Minister Xingwana to the photographs by lesbian artist and activist Zanele Muholi displayed on the Innovative Women art exhibition.

In a statement read by her spokeswoman, the Minister declared the photographs “immoral, offensive and going against nation building”. Nation building is building on the diversity of all South Africans regardless of the divisions of the past. This includes minorities.

The role of the Minister is to act as a champion of the arts and culture sector and to support, without fear or favour, the freedom of expression – a basic human right. The Minister’s role is not that of moral watchdog or to serve as a censor. That type of behaviour is associated with our authoritarian past, not our present or future. Surely the Minister needs no reminding that our constitution outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.

We wish to express our solidarity with the artist and place on record our dismay at the Minister’s reaction.

The role of the creative – be it via television, photography or any other medium – is at the very least to hold a mirror to society and reflect reality in all its diverse and pluralistic forms. Artists are shaped by societal conditions of their time and it is their job to offer a social critique, to reflect and comment on our humanity.

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