Goodman gallery in Johannesburg has been under fire from the South African government for exhibiting an unflattering nude portrait of the country’s president, Jacob Zuma; the white artist and gallerist saw it as political satire, the African National Congress saw it as hurtful racial insensitivity. Maybe it’s both: in a rare example of reconciliation, the gallery has removed the painting, and the government has agreed to drop the lawsuit, but the strikingly different views on where to draw the line on free speech when it touches the still-raw nerve of the country’s apartheid past show that there’s still a long, long healing process ahead. The ANC has called for a debate on to what extent sensitivities about human dignity in post-apartheid South Africa imposed limitations on freedom of expression.
also by Bill Davenport
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