iArt Wembley, 24 August – 21 September 2011.
iArt Gallery Wembley is pleased to present David Brits’ solo show, VICTOR VICTOR. Up until 1994, almost all able-bodied white male South Africans were called up for National Service around the time of leaving high school. As far as most of these young men were concerned, there was little option but to perform this duty or face harsh consequences. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, as many as 300 000 young South African men served in the military, many of whom were sent to fight the ‘Border War’ in northern Namibia and Angola.
The apartheid system defended its borders from the invisible Third Force. The young white men conscripted into the SADF held the authority of the regime strongly in place. Most believed that they were fighting pro patria and shielding South Africa from the rooi/swart gevaar – the conterminous threat of Communism and Black Nationalism.
By 1994, when political power was transferred from the white minority to the black majority, ex-servicemen found themselves in an ideologically transformed country. The so-called ‘terrorists’ encountered on the border were recast as heroic ‘freedom fighters’. The soldiers, who believed strongly that they were upholding Christian values against the godless communist onslaught, were stigmatised as the evil military agents of the apartheid state.
Today the sons of those men may question their fathers’ motives. Brits reflects on these men, and his own relationship with his father. He traces his path through the past by scratching, defacing and blacking out found images posted by ex-servicemen on Facebook. In another series of collages on vintage paper, drawings of South African soldiers are half obscured by torn images from natural history collections. Out of the patriarchal authority, symbolised by uniforms and flags, a new vocabulary is built, populated with hybrid creatures that mesh flora and fauna, obscenity and pathos.
David Brits graduated from Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2010 and is currently based in London. He has participated in a number of group shows in the Western Cape. VICTOR VICTOR is his first solo exhibition.