Two provocative images. "The Spear" and "Global Players"
By Anna Poppen
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Seminar paper from the year 2012 in the subject Sociology - Media, Art, Music, grade: 1,7, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, language: English, abstract: The international and interdisciplinary summer course "Transcultural Spaces / Hybrid Selves" at the University of Oldenburg from 3rd until 6th July 2012 dealt, among other things, with questions of race and diversity in South Africa. The picture The Spear by Brett Murray, which caused a scandal in South Africa in May 2012, was discussed in detail. In the course of the discussion among the course participants the question arose whether a similar scandal would be possible in Germany. To be more precise, the students and the lecturers wondered what would happen if German politicians were portrayed with their genitals exposed as is the case with Murray's painting of South African president Jacob Zuma. This seemingly simple question leads to some more in-depth issues of race and gender. As the scandal created by The Spear involved aspects of racial and gender-related discrimination, it would be interesting to find out whether similar debates would erupt in Germany in relation to a provocative portrayal of politicians. In fact, several portrayals of naked German politicians have been published in recent years. One of them is Peter Lenk's relief "Global Players," which is on display in Bodman-Ludwigshafen. This image shows five high-profile German politicians completely naked and touching each others' genitals. In order to find out whether this piece of art has created a scandal similar to the one caused by The Spear in South Africa, the public discourse on these controversial pieces of art will be compared. In the following, I will analyze opinions and arguments which appear in online blogs and magazines. By making out the main points of criticism regarding The Spear and "Global Players," I will try to come to conclusions concerning underlying social problems in South Africa and Germany. This means that I will try to find out why these pieces of art cause debates or even outrage in certain groups of society and if these bones of contention are the same in South Africa and Germany. I will pursue a case study approach using the method of blog and online article analysis as this procedure is suitable to identify the main lines of arguments in public discourse.