Months before Rhodes fell, there was an outpouring of outrage about another Cape Town sculpture – albeit a substantially younger one. ‘Perceiving Freedom’, a giant pair of sunglasses erected on the Sea Point promenade as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, was vandalised within days and denounced as shallow and opportunistic. On Freedom Day, artist Michael Elion gave the Ray-Bans a makeover. This time around, they’re about xenophobia. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Once bitten, not shy. Artist Michael Elion is either a very hardy soul or a sucker for punishment. After being on the receiving end of a tsunami of scorn last year for his ‘Perceiving Freedom’, Elion is back with a new iteration of the controversial sculpture.
The giant sunglasses, partially financed by Ray Ban, look out over the sea to Robben Island. They were originally accompanied by a plaque explaining that the work was a “sculptural tribute” to Nelson Mandela, with a picture of Mandela – while still a prisoner – wearing a pair of sunglasses.
What the plaque failed to mention, as observers subsequently pointed out, was that the picture of Mandela was taken under duress. Wrote Tom Eaton: “But the photographers kept coming, and so Prisoner 46664 stood…
Source : Daily Maverick