Artist Paul Emmanuel's latest project, Rising-falling, launches today, 15 June 2021. Join us at 6.30pm as the artist publicly projects his existing video work, Remember-dismember, (2015) onto the pedestal of an equestrian monument to General Louis Botha, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The bold work prompts us to question the status and symbolism of a monument like this in contemporary South Africa, and by association, the prominence of other equestrian monuments to colonial war heroes throughout the previously colonised world.
Rising-falling (2021) extends my interest in how a society remembers its history and how changes in this memory can result in a dismembering of identity. This monument, created by South African sculptor Coert Steynberg and unveiled in 1946, consists of an equestrian statue of Louis Botha. Botha was a Boer war hero during the South African War (between Boer and British). He became the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa (a British Dominion) during WWI, sent troops to annex German South West Africa (now Namibia), and was a co-signatory of the Treaty of Versailles. What makes the valourisation of his image important in my work is that he was prime minister at a time when black WWI soldiers (fighting alongside Britain in order to gain its support to overturn the 1913 Land Act), were not allowed to carry weapons and were denied recognition or valourisation of any sort for their efforts in the war. The monument currently occupies centre stage in the gardens at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa. The Union Buildings are the seat of political and administrative power in the country.
Rising-falling was made possible by the generous support of Diversity Art Forum and The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study.
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