When multimillionaire businessmen spend hundreds of thousands of rands on lavish birthday parties, where sushi is served from the half-naked torsos of compliant (and hopefully well-paid) models, they would probably expect criticism from a socialist like Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
That was certainly the case in October when Vavi launched a tirade against Kenny Kunene following his R700 000 birthday blowout, much of it spent on expensive imported alcohol.
Kunene is the infamous “black diamond” who clawed his way into up the corporate ladder after being released from prison in 2003 with next to nothing.
The party included models painted grey and featured guests like notorious socialite Khanyi Mbau and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
But now an astute artist has picked up where Vavi left off.
Boerewors and offal
Photographer Zanele Muholi’s latest piece is her own cynical take on the issue. The self-portrait shows Muholi laid out on a table, representing one of the models at the party, while two women eat boerewors and offal off her naked torso.
The title? “I am just doing my job,” the response given by one of the models (and sushi servers) when asked what she thought about the whole event.
In a macabre twist, the meat is placed on Muholi’s body in such a way that it seems the women are eating her internal organs.
Muholi is no stranger to controversy, having landed in the national limelight earlier in 2010 after then-arts and culture minister Lulu Xingwana stormed out of an exhibition featuring Muholi’s photographs of naked lesbians.
The hot new artist has won a host of plaudits, including the 2005 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts and the Casa Africa Award for best female photographer.
Her latest work, being launched at the Michael Stevenson gallery in Cape Town on Thursday evening, is a fairly gruesome take on a culture of excess, and an extreme take on the objectification of the female form. It is sure to get many tongues wagging, including, one hopes, the tongues that lapped up the lavish snacks at the party.
Photo credit: Robert Hamblin