|On July 4 1990, five months after his release, Mandela's call for a Southern African leaders' summit was making headlines. "Mugabe, Chissano and Mandela to Meet" was top of the news in The Star. Just below that, beneath an account of an abortive Zambian coup attempt, was a third story: "Art Entry Rocks Grahamstown Festival". The story was the new South Africa's first contemporary art scandal and its popular introduction to the work of Wayne Barker.|
"SA art caught with its pants down" was Powell's headline. Barker told journalists that he had created Moletse in order to test some of the problems facing local art - and to expose the "ethnocentric bias" of an art world he regarded as "dominated by patronising white experts."
In the slew of press that followed the Moletse scandal Barker would be accused by competition judge Alan Crump of "playing silly games" and of "shameless self-promotion".
In truth, Crump could just as well have seen Andrew Moletse to be watering the expansive ground for debate that existed between the old order and the new, between Third World art development and First World art trends and between issues of representation and appropriation.
These were to become cultural buzz phrases as the country opened up and cultures began to exchange real ideas. The academic art world was turned on its head, and political and social structures were changing irrevocably. Mandela's release had seen the cultural boycott begin to crumble, and the advent of the first large scale international showings of South African work outside the country.
Back home the nascent avant garde was finding its feet: alternative Afrikaners blew up on the music fringe; artist Braam Kruger initiated the Mamba Awards for contemporary art; state sponsored cultural institutions were boycotted by returning exiles. It was only a matter of time before Barker and his contemporaries would cross into the mainstream. By 1992, the Everard Read Contemporary Gallery had opened its upmarket doors, offering them a commercial home. Barker was selected as the debut solo artist.
|Le Monde a L'envers|
Wayne Barker: Artist's Monograph