OPINION

RMF protesters incinerated five Richard Baholo paintings - UCT

Fritha Langerman says paintings produced during 1993, were part of a valuable archive of a period in our collective histories

On the destruction of art and the loss of collective histories
18 February 2016

Assoc Prof Fritha Langerman, director of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, condemns the destruction of artworks and the threat to university collections, calling the loss of five works by Keresemose Richard Baholo, the first Black student to receive a master’s degree in fine art at UCT, “particularly tragic”.

Protestors burning art on 16 February 2016 at UCT. Photo by Ashleigh Furlong for GroundUp.

In my capacity as the director of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, I strongly condemn the destruction of artworks and the threat to university collections.

The loss of five works by Keresemose Richard Baholo (1994), the first Black student to receive a master’s degree in fine art at UCT, is particularly tragic. These paintings, produced during 1993, are part of a valuable archive of a period in our collective histories, and have been used in several courses to teach about ways in which the past is signified in the present.

It is ironic that these works that celebrated academic freedom should have met such a fate.

Our students deserve equal opportunities, and we recognise, and decry, the failure of government to provide adequate resources to ensure this is possible. However, destroying artwork impoverishes us all.

Associate Professor Fritha Langerman
Director of the Michaelis School of Fine Art

Issued by UCT, 18 February 2016