Monday, February 15, 2010

Elephants and Mad Hatters


Have we moved into the realm of the Mad Hatter? South Africans are accustomed to weird and wonderful happenings but this one ranks pretty high. An internationally acclaimed artist Andries Botha becomes famous for his Elephant sculptures. The Durban City Council thinks it’s a good idea to have some placed at a strategic entrance to Durban. He duly proceeds with the project. All of a sudden one of the ruling party heavies stops his SUV on the freeway and demands that work on the sculptures cease forthwith. The "heavy" says elephants are the logo of the IFP opposition party and have no place in an ANC run city. When the deputy mayor is asked for clarification he says "the commission must have “slipped through the cracks. What they really want is the “Big Five” to be represented" Council will debate the matter further. In the mean time the Durban Metro becomes the laughing stock of the art world.

1 comment:

janine said...

Artist Andries Botha’s (www.andriesbotha.net) three elephant installation. We have to work to see that it does not get destroyed! See below today’s Mercury article on the matter!

"Mammoth expense to build or destroy"

The Mercury - 04/29/2010 04:04

High-ranking eThekwini municipality officials have admitted that work on the controversial elephant sculpture had to stop after ANC councillors complained that the statues represented the ruling party's arch-rival, the IFP, and was offensive to them.
Deputy mayor Logie Naidoo told The Mercury yesterday that city manager Michael Sutcliffe had given instructions for the work to stop after receiving the complaints.
"My understanding is that the intention was to showcase the Big Five. But the elephants seen by councillors while driving along Warwick Junction were very similar to the IFP logo. It may have been purely coincidental, but some councillors took offence to that," said Naidoo.
ANC chief whip Fawzia Peer said: "The entire ANC is against it. Obviously the ANC at large would have reservations because of the sculptures being the IFP logo.
"Although it might have been unintentional, the depiction of the elephants may be viewed differently."
Should the council decide to demolish the elephants positioned near the Warwick Junction interchange, it could squander over R1.7 million to get rid of them.
This is one of the recommendations contained in the long-awaited report compiled by the city's engineering head, Adrian Peters.
The report points out that demolishing the elephants would cost R200 000 in addition to the R1.3m which had already been spent on the project.
This excludes the R4 500 a day that renowned sculptor Andries Botha and his team have been paid since work was stopped on February 8.
This amount would have to come from the city's capital budget.
All opposition parties in the council said yesterday that they were not opposed to the sculptures and that the row caused by the ANC was childish and would cost ratepayers thousands of rands.
Should the status quo be maintained, no additional costs would be incurred by the council except for covering the daily labour .
Another option would be to be complete the elephants and incorporate sculptures of the remaining Big Five animals, which could cost the city a further R1.5m.
The report says that the sculptures were funded by the national Transport Department as a 2010 priority project for the Warwick Junction's regeneration.
The city's architecture department was then approached by Eric Apelgren, the head of international and government relations in the municipality, to attend a meeting with Botha to facilitate the positioning of sculptures in the city.
According to Naidoo, the ANC's main argument was that the project was not discussed by or approved by the council or any other committee in the city, while Botha said he had been given the go-ahead by a properly constituted committee.
Patrick Pillay, a Minority Front councillor on the executive committee, asked who had given instructions for the work to stop.
"The report doesn't indicate whether that official should be surcharged because of the extra costs that may be incurred by ratepayers," he said. DA caucus leader Tex Collins echoed Pillay's sentiments.
The decision taken yesterday was for the matter to be referred to the city's legal team to advise on whether the report could be taken to the full council today, without the team's recommendations being discussed by the executive committee.