CCAC #: 0093
Artwork title: History
Installation type: Permanently installed
Artwork type: Sculpture or object
Artist(s): Dumile Feni
Year made: 1987
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
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.

Does this listing contain information that you think we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.
CCAC 433344

Photographer: Ben Law-Viljoen
Photo copyright: CCT