In his two years at the University of Cape Town's Michaelis Art School, Barker's rough and ready painting instincts made a favourable impression. But he couldn't shake the lingering sense that something was up with the drinking water. As the filmmaker Mira Nair once put it: "Cape Town is not itself. Here even the vegetation is imported."

Out of place in the city's small circle of smugness, Barker began to feel that maybe Pretoria wasn't so bad after all, at least it was what it was, however horrible. In Cape Town, P.W. Botha and his ever-encroaching states of emergency seemed to be able to exist in some sort of bubble somewhere above the mountain.

Like his cousin Brett Murray and his soon-to-be new friend Barend de Wet, both already fourthyear art stars at the school when he arrived, Barker emerged from his encounters with the more genteel, gin-sipping, faux-bohemian side of life in the former colony thinking hard and muttering aloud.

When a respected lecturer, Neville Dubow, asked his students to sculpt extensions of their bodies, Barker decided to make "a colonial thing".

"It was a tennis court off my body - and I dressed up as [Dubow] and then got the rest of the students to throw tennis balls at me. Other people were making wings and stuff. And he was furious. He was devastated."

Barker's brief outing as a tennis court was just the first of many little cultural interventions and art parodies he would come to perform. The next time he did it, though, he would be Charlie Chaplin and the stakes would be higher.

Anyone for Tennis?

Wayne Barker: Artist's Monograph
Vienna Calling
60's Suburbia
Johnny Rottenism
Anyone for Tennis?
Fourteen Days in Hell
The Bad Art Attacks
The Famous Five do Downtown
Fragments of a Murder
Have you Hugged a Fascist Today?
Landscape with Target
Blood Money
Le Monde a L'envers
Bigotry on a Stick
The Heart of Neon
Divorce in Paradise
The South African Thing
Storming the Ramparts
The Wax Hand
A Love Story
Frankfurt in Latex
The Talking Curio
Back to Basics
Dirty Laundry
A New Kind of Freedom
Photo Credits & Works