In April 1994, after years of protest, oppression, and dissent, the eyes of the world were on South Africa and its first free elections. Would some sixteen million people voting for the first time select the African National Congress as the ruling party and Nelson Mandela as president? Would the nation’s National Party, architects of apartheid, be defeated? Nineteen political parties representing the country’s diverse constituencies and 91% of the electorate participated in the process, a period of great tension. This important election would also usher in a new Parliament and the creation of a new non-discriminatory constitution.
Fowler in Focus―Mandela for President: South Africa Votes for Democracy―on display at the Fowler Museum from Apr 7–July 21, 2013―documents this landmark moment in South African and world history with election ephemera, textiles, posters and works of art created in response to the end of apartheid. Works include colorful commemorative cloths emblazoned with Mandela’s likeness and Hamilton Budaza’s print Vote for Democracy.
This exhibition complements Ernest Cole Photographer―125 original, rare black-and-white silver gelatin prints by one of South Africa’s first black photojournalists―on display at the Fowler Museum from April 7–July 7, 2013. The Fowler’s South African election art and ephemera together with Cole’s images of life for black South Africans in the mid-1960s provide a look at both the earlier years of apartheid and the emotion and anticipation of freedom during the 1994 election.
Fowler in Focus―Mandela for President: South Africa Votes for Democracy is curated by Betsy Quick, director of education and curatorial affairs, Fowler Museum. The exhibition will be on view in the Fowler in Focus gallery, the central space within the long-term exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. Fowler in Focus is dedicated to rotating installations of new acquisitions, sub-collections, and particular artistic genres in the Fowler's permanent holdings.