THE NAKED MAN OF STEEL
In 2006, Angus Taylor, a South African sculptor, created a giant carbon steel statue of a naked black man (Froud, 2011). The artwork was named ‘Positive’ (Fig 1). The origin and meaning behind this name will be revealed further on in the essay. The statue caused varied reactions in three different locations, namely on the campus of the University of Potchefstroom, in front of a Strand apartment block and finally a farm in the middle of the Karoo. There were some harsh reactions towards the artwork from sections of the White community and some of the Black community. These reactions led to issues regarding the right to freedom of expression from the artist and the public.
Statues are generally erected and displayed in only one place, where they remain. In the case of ‘Positive,’ it was moved three times because of adverse public reaction. The statue was first erected outside a building of the University of Potchefstroom (Barnard, 2013). Taylor paid R100 000 to have it placed on the campus (Peters, 2006). He said, “One could not before 1994 place a sculpture of a naked black man on the campus in Potchefstroom,” (Taylor 2014) and in celebration of the restrictions being lifted Taylor decided to name the statue ‘Positive’ (Taylor 2014). He stated “’Positive’ is an anti-monument, a large, raw sculpture without any pompous propaganda or agenda” (Taylor 2014). However the Potchefstroom students reacted by painting the old South African flag on it and thereafter tied an apron around its pelvic region (Peters, 2006).
The statue was then removed and taken to Grande Provence, a gallery in Franschhoek, where it was bought by a Belgian art collector, Willy Woestyn (Barnard, 2013). Woestyn is also an architect and...
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