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SUE WILLIAMSON SELECTED WORK (article first published : 2003-08-4)

Cape Town artist Sue Williamson certainly does not need in introduction in the South African art world. She made her name, especially during the 1980s when she was known for her beautiful etchings and screenprints of women who were prominent in the apartheid struggle such as Winnie Mandela and Helen Joseph, who were banned and whose photographs were not allowed to be published.

The book Sue Willamson Selected Work includes a CD ROM with images from the book and from the many exhibitions she staged throughout the country and all over the globe.

Divided into different chapters and different periods the book describes the trauma of South African history. Reading the text and looking at the images is a truly emotional experience, which does bring tears to one’s eyes.

Willamson exposes the cruelty of the apartheid era, but also deals with what came after and what went on before. The lithograph of Winnie Mandela and Assassination of Dr Asvat describes the story of a Sowetan doctor who was assassinated in 1989 by two men in his surgery “as he refused to supply false records clearing Winnie Mandela of involvement with Stompie Seipie.”

There’s also an installation of people who were part of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings.

And history goes even further back to the work titled Messages from the Moat, describing the rule of the Dutch Easy India Company.

The SA dompas saga, For thirty years next to his heart, is a complete record of the life of Mr Ngesi. Out of the Ashes documents an installation which opened in Havana within days of the first democratic elections in South Africa. Set in a white vaulted space, the piece was a celebration being the metaphor for the Phoenix which rises from the ashes.

The chapter From the Inside documents a collaborative project with people living with Aids. I’m sick of Mbeki saying HIV doesn’t cause aids is a digital print-off one of the many public murals and graffiti in Cape Town juxtaposed with photographs of Aids sufferers drawn from interviews with the subjects.

Even the chronology makes interesting reading as it makes one aware of Sue Williamson’s truly international status as an artist who has been involved with bienales in Sydney, Venice, Johannesburg and Cuba.

This Double Storey Books with CD has texts in three languages – English, Flemish (Dutch) and French, and is available at Exclusive Books and other book stores at a price of R285. Well worth it! – Marianne Meijer




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