The South African Screen Federation (SASFED), which represents the interests of most film and television industry organisations in the country as a collective federation, has issued the following statement regarding the reported reaction of Arts and Culture Minister, Lulu Xingwana, to the photographs by lesbian artist and activist Zanele Muholi displayed on the Innovative Women art exhibition.
“In a statement read by her spokeswoman, the Minister declared the photographs “immoral, offensive and going against nation building’. Nation building is building on the diversity of all South Africans regardless of the divisions of the past. This includes minorities.
“The role of the Minister is to act as a champion of the arts and culture sector and to support, without fear or favour, the freedom of expression – a basic human right. The Minister’s role is not that of moral watchdog or to serve as a censor. That type of behaviour is associated with our authoritarian past, not our present or future. Surely the Minister needs no reminding that our constitution outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“SASFED wishes to express its solidarity with the artist and place on record our dismay at the Minister’s reaction.
“The role of the creative – be it via television, photography or any other medium – is at the very least to hold a mirror to society and reflect reality in all its diverse and pluralistic forms. Artists are shaped by societal conditions of their time and it is their job to offer a social critique, to reflect and comment on our humanity.’