Arts24: Anton Kannemeyer says cancel culture is the new censorship
What happens when art becomes mass commodity? In Anton Kannemeyer's case, politically subversive satire runs the risk of misrepresentation and, ultimately, a new kind of censorship. Arts24 interviewed Anton in July 2020 to discuss the Twitter furore that erupted after his designs were removed from fashion and decor commerce website, Superbalist. Read the full article here.
"Controversial artist Anton Kannemeyer's comic work was recently dragged into the spotlight again after Twitter users noticed a number of his racially-charged prints for sale on the online shopping platform, Superbalist.
The 53-year-old Cape Town based artist is no stranger to controversy.
One could even go as far as to say he courts it. In 2019, staff at Everard Read threatened to resign from the gallery, protesting the display of Kannmeyer's work.
According to the artist, he has not had a solo exhibition in South Africa since E is for Exhibition closed at the Stevenson in November of 2015. This is not to say he is without success. Kannemeyer continues to show internationally and only recently had his prints removed from Superbalist and The Artist Press."
In general, mainstream media and art has lost some of its narrative dominance to social media. The general public is able to respond to and critique art without the intervention of galleries and editors. This has changed the face of the critic in that it can be anyone. How has public opinion towards your work changed (if at all)? How has it influenced the ways in which your work is read and consumed?
It's true that my work can now be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. Unfortunately it is also now read on the most literal level, without any consideration of the context or motivations from my side. The comments I receive from people nowadays are very similar to comments I received back in the 90s from conservative white South Africans. Back then I was backed up by a liberal media and academics. These people are quiet now, mostly in fear of reprisals or being called out as racists themselves. The media today is led by social platforms and this is an extremely sorry state of affairs. The levels of ignorance and intolerance are astounding. So, in a way, public opinion has changed: before I was hated only by conservatives; now I'm hated by both conservatives and pseudo-liberals. And I think the very notion of what liberal means has changed today: in my mind liberalism stands for gender and racial equality, and, most importantly, freedom of speech.
"I'm not being asked to talk about my work anymore, which I always thought was helpful, even to the most informed audiences"