TITLE

Stephen Biko and the Torture Aesthetic

AUTHOR(S)
Eide, Marian
PUB. DATE
September 2014
SOURCE
Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies;Fall2014, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p9
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Essay
ABSTRACT
Stephen Biko's death in South Africa in 1977 under the apartheid regime has become an iconic event for the global human-rights community for whom he is an international symbol. In the aesthetic realm-in works of art in a wide variety of forms including poetry, drama, popular song, film, and visual arts-his memory has been kept alive for over three decades. This essay focuses on three popular, transnational works of art that lay claim on global audiences to participate in an idealized universal citizenship founded on an objection to torture that is both the assumption and motivation for their art. Peter Gabriel's 1980 song "Biko," Richard Attenborough's 1987 film "Cry Freedom," and Saira Essa and Charles Pillai's 1985 documentary play Steve Biko: The Inquest each in its own formal register (song, film, play), memorializes torture to produce an iconography of political martyrdom that I will call the torture aesthetic. Biko iconography stands here as a particularly potent example of a larger trend within aesthetic practices in which a historical example of brutality is invoked to activate audiences and to raise concerns within human rights discourse itself.
ACCESSION #
100117831

 

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