Artist Statement

Visual Arts have a dialectical relationship with the history of activism and propaganda. Printed matter is a vital tool for the powerful and powerless in attempting to communicate and persuade others of various ideas be they ideological, political, religious or sociocultural (Bull, 2016). Worldwide there are 77-79 countries that have laws making homosexuality illegal and 6-7 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death (Rupar, 2014). (Taylor, 2013). The intention of this project is to explore the political power of the printed public message and internet to draw attention to anti-gay laws in Africa and the Middle East. Pink Stone is a website and information platform that disseminates information on anti-gay legal rights, mapping and orientation of where homosexuality is illegal. Poster installations were put up around the UCT lower and upper campus with a QR code that takes the viewer to the website, through a smartphone, in order to subvert public conceptions on what it means to be openly gay in Africa.

The Pink Stone silkscreen installation is a symbolic allegory of stoning. Stoning is one of the methods used by Sharia law states that impose the death penalty for homosexuality which is deemed ‘a danger to society’ (“Library of Congress” n.d.). The digital lithograph creates a counter grid of a girl kissing herself and turning away in shame; a visual text that to points to LGBTI rights in South Africa. Although South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in Africa ‘corrective rape’ and hate crimes continue against the LGBTI community. For South Africa to truly be a haven for equal protection under the law for all of its citizens, clear signals need to be sent that “corrective” rape is a hate crime that the government takes seriously. As a continent, Africa needs to create real legitimized discursive spaces of diversity and recognize the socially constructed nature of sexuality and gender categories (Bronson, 2013: 95). Queer as a movement, a politics and an aesthetic critically challenges systems of “supremacy, constructed sexual and gender identity, patriarchy and is a counterargument to heteronormativity” (Bronson, 2013: 95). The aim of the Pink Ink installation is to visually engage the viewer and, through a QR code, take them to an internet space of disseminated information. The concept is to create a gallery and internet space that allows the viewer to critically think about social tolerance and cultural acceptance of gay people in the Middle East and Africa.