Generic self-portrait

Wim Botha

2003

Marble dust and resin

Traditional sculptures are made from bronze, but this Wim Botha bust is made from mielie pap, maize meal. Using an unconventional medium adds a different meaning to an artwork. Maize meal is a staple of the South African diet. Although it is cheap, it is a valuable form of nourishment, meeting the everyday needs of the masses. It also plays a key role in the country’s complex history. In some of his similar works, Botha uses mielie pap to question the meaning and value we add to religious icons and the role of religion as nourishment to the masses. In this case, Botha subverts the authority traditional to Western marble busts associated with the elite and questions our ideas of value by instead using a cheaper, more accessible medium.

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