Political imaginings in the visual art of South African Indians

16 May 2013

During times of pain, trauma and disempowerment, the creative field of fine art affords an opportunity for communication and self-empowerment. In the 1980s, which was one of the most turbulent decades in South Africa’s political history, art students from the University of Durban-Westville used their creativity to engage with these struggles. The artworks presented here are a small sample extracted from a broader corpus of work, approximating 1 000 pieces, which have been identified over a research period of four years and which have yet to be located within a more inclusive space in the art history of our country. This article attempts to engage with this marginalisation in our art history and intends to bring into the dialogue those South African artists who have been consigned to invisibility. This dialogue and narrative are vital nationally as South Africa embarks on the process of regeneration and affirms both national and cultural pride in the South African histories and heritage. Further, at a time when the South African Indian community has just celebrated their 150th year in this country, the space has arrived through the post-colonial discourse to write back to the centre those who have been consigned to the peripheries of our society.