This project looks at attitudes toward the edifice of Cecil Rhodes in Cape Town. It draws on parallels between the treatment of the object and the treatment of religious iconography – while the idea is not explicitly expressed in the artwork itself, it serves as the framework for thinking about the project. Rhodes’ image serves as an icon and any gesture enacted on the object becomes iconoclastic. The ideology under scrutiny – of which the object is representative – is imperialism and white supremacy. Extending this idea further; the museum stands in as a temple.
It may seem redundant to make a body of work regarding Rhodes Must Fall. Several books have been written about the events, along with a plethora of news and journal articles, but their focus is generally not the bronze statues and their treatment, but rather the political movements – and rightly so. But, consider the vast amount of documentation on the life of Rhodes: there are books, papers, archived documents and even an eight-part TV show re-enacting his life. Yet, the eventual removal of the tall bronze statue was described, by some people, as the erasure of history. Here we consider the significance of the object, its presence, its treatment and its departure.