CCAC #: 0093
Artwork title: History
Artist(s): Dumile Feni
Year made: 1987
Artwork type: Sculpture or object
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions (mm): 2690 x 1700 x 1000
Source: Donated by the Dumile Feni Family Trust and funded by the Tides Foundation.
Year acquired: 2007
Installation type: Permanently installed
Location area: On public display

The work depicts the complexity of the master-slave relationship and how, historically, some people have given their bodies and souls to pull others along. The title suggests the brutal treatment of the Black body during apartheid and the broader harnessing of Black labour in the colonial enterprise. The large figure is not chained and could stand up at any point, similarly to the figure who is sat on. The seated figures have no arms and need physical help, signalling humanity's interdependence and the need to ultimately advance to non-racialism, non-sexism, dignity, equality and freedom; key principles of South Africa's Constitution. History was a small clay maquette which was found in the artist's studio after his death in 1991. Feni died in New York, just as he was about to return to South Africa after more than two decades in exile. The artist was vocal against the apartheid government, and this led to the need for him to flee to London and later the United States. The sculpture was enlarged and cast in bronze by the Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon, New York and shipped to South Africa in 2003. Feni, of whom a number of drawings is held in the CCAC, is remembered as a great South African artist. His work embodies the defiance of the human spirit and is imbued with feelings of deep sympathy and humanity.

CCAC 433344

Photographer: Ben Law-Viljoen
Photo copyright: CCT

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NOTE: The process of photographing artworks in the CCAC is underway - we are currently working to improve image quality and display on the CMS but have included internal reference photos for identification purposes in the interim.