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sand cement steel wood glue
122 x 244cm
collection: Standard Bank Corporate Art Collection

What is our oil doing under their sand?

  • I found this title while watching TV coverage of a protest march in London opposing Britain's involvement in the war against Iraq. It was a slogan on a banner carried by a group of anti-war demonstrators. The statistics quoted in the work were published in Newsweek in March 2004. Few artists were prepared to tackle such themes at the time, because they didn't want to end up compromised or discriminated against in any way. I make a number of high- risk works that are controversial to some people. They can also supply a platform from which others can fire cheap shots, for example by calling me a racist. I am however undaunted. Although some of these works sparked outrage when I first exhibited them, they are now being received on less hostile terms. This indicates the dynamic shift in consciousness that has taken place in the public attitude towards a war I have always regarded as illegitimate.


    When I made WHAT IS OUR OIL DOING UNDER THEIR SAND in 2004 it was easy to call me a terrorist. But my not agreeing with someone's policy doesn't make me a terrorist. If I believe strongly enough in something, I feel driven to say what I think, and I have been doing this since I made my earliest works, for example BANGBOEK and KYKAFRIKAANS. If I feel an injustice has been committed, particularly one that involves children, I will say what needs to be said. In the same breath, I must acknowledge that although some of my recent works criticise what the United States is doing in the Middle East, I have many American friends and patrons, the majority of whom did not vote for the current president.

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