South Africa loses heritage artwork

David Goldblatt Picture: GCINA NDWALANE

UCT is losing its David Goldblatt Collection because the world renowned South African photographer believes artistic freedom and the rights of artists are no longer protected at the university.

UCT released a statement earlier this month confirming the collection, which it has held since 2009, would be moving to Yale University, in America.

The Goldblatt Collection, which is considered a South African heritage treasure, includes 18 archival boxes of photographic prints, transparencies, negatives and digital items which represent the photographer’s entire body of work over 60 years.

Goldblatt is known for capturing the country’s apartheid years and the period immediately after it. His previous agreement with UCT allowed students and staff use of the materials for study and research.

UCT said it had appealed to Goldblatt to reconsider but he could not be swayed. He had felt his work could not be adequately protected at the university.

Last year, UCT was rocked by violent #FeesMustFall protests that saw the destruction and vandalism of art deemed offensive by students.

“We respect and understand his decision. The institution, the UCT libraries and the faculties working in this field are committed to freedom of expression, artistic freedom and the rights of artists,” said a UCT statement. “UCT commits itself to intellectual honesty, rigour in debate, openness to alternative ideas and respect for other views, beliefs and opinions as stipulated in the university’s statement of values. We promote and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression, including the creation of spaces for contestation of ideas.”

The Tatler was unable to reach Goldblatt before publication to determine whether last year’s student protests had motivated his decision.