Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sea Change

Good effing god... at last, at last at last blundering Bush is on the way out and the future actually seems hopeful, prospects look good, artists could even, maybe (?!?), become slightly more valued in this country. Obamanation. Sign me up. Now if only he can do something about the rampant homophobia clogging the veins of this country (what are those 18,000 married gay couples in CA going to do now?) and put a bit more integrity back into the Supreme Court, things would really be looking up.

I've been too preoccupied lately to keep up with this blog or the barrage of photography the month of October in Atlanta offers. But all the Obama craze (and hope, and joy, and pride, and optimism) reminded me of the excellent show "Nelson Mandela: Man of the People" at Spruill Gallery and compelled me to blog onward.

The show is an impressive collection of photographs documenting the life and struggles of Nelson Mandela as captured by Peter Magubane, an internationally acclaim African photographer.

The front two rooms present the earlier years of the anti-apartheid struggle, dated in black and white, the unsettling images convey the violence and suffering with interjections of surreal beauty in the bare landscape.

The show statement notes about Magubane, "Placed under house arrest, banned from photography, beaten up and imprisoned in solitary confinement, he was not deterred from his task, and sometimes hid his camera in a loaf of bread to capture these moments in history."

I know Obama is not Mandela, and America is not South Africa, but this fight for a better world burns in both of them, and this show only emphasises for me the importance of Obama's leadership in a time when our country has spent too long chasing its own tail while tripping backwards down a very slippery slope.

Ok ok, this is not a political blog, and for good reason, because I couldn't tell you the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite if my life depended on it, so I will stop with my Obamatyzing and get back to the aht.

The show transitions into color photography throughout the rest of the gallery, documenting Mandela's personal life, supporters who rallied for him, his time as President, meeting with various international notables, and his personal life as a father and grandfather.

"We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based of justice for all."

"This is the challenge that faces all South Africans today, and it is one to which I am certain we will all rise."


(Rosa Parks!)

The show is really a must-see, and there is no better excuse than the closing reception (and Obama celebration) this Saturday, November 8th 2008 at Spruill Gallery 6-8pm.