Behind the prints of an abuser

25 Jun

Image taken from Google.

Anyone who follows my work knows that my three passions in life are Women, Africa and the arts. After being off social media for a few days, I found that on Saturday afternoon, 23 June 2018, I was tagged in the post that was posted by Simphiwe Dana, regarding a so-called​ well-known​ artist who apparently beat up a woman​​ at a Kenya airport. I immediately began to investigate who the alleged perpetrator is, as I am not an art connoisseur and I certainly do not pretend to be one, I had to look for his website, this is what was I found via

‘Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Mohau Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society, on how we understand our cultural, political, and social roles as human beings in post-colonial Africa and in particular post-apartheid South Africa.

Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performances, his “work doesn’t start off with an attempt to portray violence but it becomes mesmerising because although we might recognise history as our past, the body is indifferent to social changes, so it remembers.”

Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto in 1986 and lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2009 and worked towards his Master’s degree at the same institution. His work engages race, the militarisation of society and the deep divides of post-apartheid South Africa and the post-colonial continent. He interrogates the collective narratives that inform our experience of the world, in particular those that evoke the black body as a site of fragmentation and distortion.

Modisakeng was awarded the Sasol New Signatures Award for 2011. He has exhibited at VOLTA NY, New York (2014); the Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012); Focus 11, Basel (2011); and Stevenson, Cape Town (2010). In 2013 he produced an ambitious new video work in association with Samsung as a special project for the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair. His work is included in public collections such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town and the Saatchi Gallery, London as well as in significant private collections such as Zeitz MOCAA. After my investigations into the matter, I came across a post by a gentleman who was at the scene. With his permission, I have posted the facts that he shared on his Twitter feed….’


This morning, I read in the City Press newspaper, the headline states:
‘He was in a rage’ – Acclaimed artist arrested after airport assault
2018-06-24 08:16
by Charl Blignaut
The full article may be found via:

In the article it talks about how acclaimed artist Mohau Modisakeng was arrested after allegedly assaulting a woman at a Kenyan airport on Tuesday, slapping her and tearing up her passport.
According to the article, ‘lawyers for Modisakeng (32) deny that he did any such thing’.

“Mr Modisakeng has confirmed that an argument ensued, but unequivocally denies all allegations of abuse in this regard. This was a private issue … and in no way resulted from a jealous rage.”

Having been in the activist space for many years, I know that there are common threads and incidents that happen when these ‘allegations’ surface.
There are many, but these are the most common facts that transpire:

1. The accused always denies the actions.
2. The voice of the survivor is either muffled or silenced.
3. The blame is placed on a woman or women in general.
4. The matter is referred to as a family matter. This usually happens when the survivor is dependent on the abuser and lives a life of fear as she believes that she will not be able to live a life without their support, this the lends to the fact that so many women remain in abusive relationships.
5. The perpetrator is always protected.

My main concern in this matter is the safety and well being of the survivor, as there have been witnesses, reports and allegation from people who were on the ground who witnessed how everything unfolded and now we are told that she has denied it all.
We have received a statement from a lawyer who claims to represent her but we have not heard or seen anything from her.

In my further investigations, I came across a Twitter feed, form a gentleman who had been at the scene and witnessed the incidents as they unfolded. With his permission, I have cut and pasted​ the post taken from his Timeline:

So once again, my concern​ lies with the survivor.
Is she safe? Does she know what her rights are?

If you are in contact​ with her, please let her know that through POWA, she is able to ​receive​ shelter​, support and counselling but she will have​ to​ make theinitial​l contact. If you do know her, please protect​ her and remind her that whatever transpired, it is not her fault. Any communication​ through POWA will remain confidential​ and her rights and privacy​ will always​ be protected​.

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