Year after year, the Constitutional Court Art Collection (CCAC) continues to grow through the generous donation of work by internationally celebrated artists, giving expression to the idea of human dignity informing South Africa’s unique Constitution.
Some of the works included in the CCAC
Humanity by Joseph Ndlovu sparked the collection when Justices Albie Sachs and Yvonne Mokgoro blew an entire décor budget of R10 000 on commissioning this single work. ‘I love the way that Justice Mokgoro speaks about Humanity,’ says Stacey Vorster, curator of the Constitutional Court Art Collection (CCAC).‘
Two works by Professor Pitika Ntuli, one in particular Gaza: Lest we forget comprises a heap of large animal bones, some of them carefully carved, while others are unaltered, with dried strips of flesh still clinging. Each bone, she recalls, was individually wrapped, brought to the site and carefully hand installed by the artist in a ‘kind of ritual’.
A 1980s print by Rhona Gorvy titled Indomitable Spirit that speaks to the idea of trauma repeating itself, and, more particularly, the fortitude with which people endure and overcome such suffering. ‘Gorvy speaks about this work as a representation of how much trauma we can go through and still be resilient,’ Vorster says.
This idea of resilience in turn leads Vorster to Judith Mason’s The Blue Dress, which she describes as their signature piece. While another piece new to the collection is a photograph on perspex, depicting a long row of people, primarily young black men and boys, struggling with HIV. This is one of some 20 large works from Gideon Mendel’s Positive Eye series, donated by the artist.
Close by, two works by Larry Scully show District Six back in the day, while further along, Susan Woolf’s Healing Art Books incorporates rooibos teabags, plasters and handcopied adverts placed by people looking for domestic and gardening jobs, into a metal and glass sculpture. Vorster finds that, ‘It’s rooted in such a South African experience – the relationship between the white privileged person and a domestic worker.’
‘It is now 21 years since the democratic elections, and we can already see how the story is becoming important,’ says Vorster. ‘This collection starts to tell such diverse, untold stories, and give a platform for them in a way that isn’t threatening or prescriptive. And I think that’s what makes this space completely unique, not just in South Africa, but in the world.’ On the last Thursday of every month, visitors can join an Art and Justice Tour, which starts at the entrance to the Court at 18:00. The tour is free and last about 90 minutes – book your place by contacting Stacey Vorster at firstname.lastname@example.org.