Public Art in South Africa: Bronze Warriors and Plastic Presidents

Brenda Schmahmann (Editor) Kim Miller (Editor)
& 5 more


How does South Africa deal with public art from its years of colonialism and apartheid? How do new monuments address fraught histories and commemorate heroes of the struggle? Across South Africa, statues commemorating figures such as Cecil Rhodes have provoked heated protests, while new works commemorating icons of the liberation struggle have also sometimes proved contentious. In this lively volume, Kim Miller, Brenda Schmahmann and an international group of contributors explore how works in the public domain in South Africa serve as a forum in which important debates about race, gender, identity and nationhood play out. Examining statues and memorials as well as performance, billboards, and other temporal modes of communication, the authors of these essays consider the implications of not only the exposure, but also erasure of events and icons from the public domain. Revealing how public visual expressions articulate histories and memories, they explore how such works may serve as a forum in which tensions surrounding race, gender, identity, or nationhood play out.

Product Details

Indiana University Press
Publish Date
October 16, 2017
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.74 inches | 1.05 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Kim Miller is Associate Professor at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she also holds the Jane Oxford Keiter Professorship of women's and gender studies and art history. She is a research associate in the University of Johannesburg's Visual Identities in Art and Design research center. Miller's scholarship, which examines the relationship between visual culture, gender, and power in African arts, includes her forthcoming book, How Did They Dare? Women's Activism and the Work of Memory in South African Commemorative Art.

Brenda Schmahmann is Professor and the South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture at the University of Johannesburg. She has written, edited, or coedited a number of volumes on South African art, the most recent of which are Picturing Change: Curating Visual Culture at Post-Apartheid Universities (2013) and The Keiskamma Art Project: Restoring Hope and LIvelihoods (2016).


"This book alerts us to the pitfalls and potentials of public art in a stimulating and thought-provoking manner, and is highly recommended for specialist readers as well as a broader audience."

--African Arts