Institutional
R5 rifle, pickaxe, steel reinforced concrete, printed paper
1000 x 1500 x 700 mm
2016
Private Collection

This work is a brutalist, informal monument to the Marikana Massacre, taking as its nexus point two press releases the artist downloaded from lonmin.com. Each A4 press release from 2015 detail the accidental death of a worker at the company's Marikana facility. One details the death of a black, male employee and the other that of a white, male employee. An institutional, racial bias are plainly evident in these comparative texts. The inclusion of the R5 rifle in the sculpture (standard issue to South African Police Services) as well as the pickaxe, metaphorically represent the violent hierarchy evident in the current South African Vice President’s (Cyril Ramaphosa) deeply problematic relationship to the London-based company.

The Marikana Massacre started as a wildcat strike at a mine owned by Lonmin plc (a British producer of platinum group metals) in the Marikana area, close to Rustenburg, South Africa in 2012. The event garnered international attention following a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security and the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on the one side and strikers themselves on the other, which resulted in the deaths of 44 people, 41 of whom were striking mineworkers killed by police between 14 - 16 August 2012. During the same incident, at least 78 additional workers were injured. The Marikana Massacre was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960. The shootings have been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960.