CHRIS THURMAN: Background to ‘Fearless Girl’ shifts issues to the foreground
Since the launch of the African incarnation in Johannesburg, the fortunes of the original in New York City have fluctuated
Two weeks ago Business Day ran a piece by Hans Pienaar about Africa’s Fearless Girl, the sculpture commissioned by Rand Merchant Bank to join the expanding collection of public artworks at its Sandton headquarters. To use the parlance of arts criticism, you could say that Pienaar damns the statue with faint praise. His article ends on an upbeat note, affirming that if Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe’s take on a minor American icon encourages South African girls “to brave the very male world of finance, it can only be a good thing”. But the rest of the text suggests that Pienaar is enamoured neither with the sculpture, nor with its companion (an RMB lion that has been through an “egg slicer”), nor indeed with the sponsor’s claims about the “African” and the “feminine” in the banking sector. I have come to realise that I am less interested in passing judgment on individual works of art and more interested in the wider intellectual, political and aesthetic discussions to which they contribute. S...