Resistance, a giant wheat paste spanning more than 100 metres, is a world record artwork by South African artist and filmmaker Ralph Ziman.
The public art installation makes a powerful social statement on the arms trade – which naturally continues the theme of his previous body of work, Ghosts. As a starting point for this, Ziman had six Zimbabwean artists use traditional African beads and wire to manufacture several hundred beaded AK-47s; replicas of an iconic weapon which has come to be revered and grossly fetishized in Africa. Once completed, the beaded guns were the subject of a photo shoot in downtown Johannesburg, resulting in a series of images that are vivid, unsettling, and strangely beautiful. Ghosts highlights the reality that most of this trade is targeted in the direction of Africa, subsequently fuelling and sustaining conflict across the continent.
The title of his latest work, Resistance, is inspired by War Resisters International – an anti-war organisation founded in the wake of the First World War. War Resisters has been in existence for almost a century and has branches all over the world. The logo has always been a rifle, broken in half by a pair of hands. “When creating Resistance,” Ziman says, “I wanted to update the logo. The gun is now an AK 47, the most destructive weapon in the history of mankind – in fact, it has killed more people than the atom bomb and HIV Aids combined. The gun is wrapped in a combination of world currencies symbolizing the international arms trade which not only pedals in death, but also impoverished fledgling economies around the world by diverting money that could be used for health care and education. 25% of the world’s corruption is routed in the international arms trade, making it the largest organized crime syndicate in the world.”
Resistance was installed from 6-10 October, and has been applied to the ground of the grand parade where it is strategically situated between The Cape Castle and City Hall (each with their own historical relevance). Born through collaboration, the project was made possible with the partnerships of The African Arts Institute, Ubuntu Academy and Invisible Sun. MUTI Films and WetINK formed the production team for the series of videos below:
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