South African President’s Art Penis Vandalized, Vandals Thrashed

05.22.12 Marina Galperina

After a controversial portrait of President Jacob Zuma brandishing exposed genitals was vandalized in Johannesburg, the Goodman Gallery is temporarily closing down the “Hail to the Thief II” exhibit. Watch as the polite attackers are viciously taken down by gallery security. Well, one of them.

There are racial controversies riddling the entire affair, starting from the debut of “The Spear,” by white Cape Town artist Brett Murray. Modeled after a Soviet propaganda portrait of Lenin, plus the penis. The work points to the ruling African National Congress, its alleged corruption and socialist origins. It’s also a non-transparent jab at the president’s rape conviction.

The ANC condemned the work as “an affront to the dignity and the privacy of President Zuma,” while “many black people deeply uncomfortable about the confrontational portrait of the president” and “many whites were disturbed by ANC’s efforts to curb artistic freedom,” the Los Angeles Times assesses.

Then came the honor defenders. While the gallery was open, a young black man and a white university professor in his fifties painted red crosses and smeared black swirls across the president’s face and exposed genitalia. One of them was escorted and lightly manhandled to the side. The other was head-butted, smashed into the wall, choked, and theatrically slammed into the ground, while not resisting. Guess which.