The aesthetics of 'manhood' within the paradigmatic framework of theopaschitic theology. From Brett Murray's painting 'The Spear' and the opened fly to the iconic view of 'The Anchor' and the spiritual art of male genitals

Daniël Louw
2013 Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif  
The Brett Murray painting of president Zuma with an opened fly probes into the realm of manhood. It reveals the so called 'masculinity crisis' in the gender discourse. From a practical theological point of view it poses the question whether one can exclude male genitals from a holistic anthropology that views corporeality and sexuality as essential elements of the 'human soul'. The following question is posed: To what extent can the theopaschitic paradigm and Christian iconic view on life
more » ... bute to the transformation of existing images on being male and masculinity? Can such a theological approach change existing paradigms determined by domination and patriarchal power? It is accepted that masculinities are products of social and cultural images. In this regard manhood is a social and cultural construct. The Brett Murray painting emphasizes the fact that the penis is still a phallic symbol and as a 'public' subjected to the gaze of social media. The public reactions on Brett Murray's 'The Spear' are scrutinized by a Christian spiritual hermeneutics. The objective of the article is to emphasize the role of aesthetics in the establishment of a poetic gaze on manhood. It is an attempt to transform thrusting manhood into 'compassionate intimacy'. It is argued that male genitals should be viewed as sacred and 'soulful' parts of human embodiment. Brett Murray's painting of president Zuma, dressed in a suit, portrayed in the gesture of Lenin, with an opened fly and vivid manhood, stirred up a lot of reactions. The responses changes from laughing cynicism, to serious assessment, aesthetic evaluation, anger and even violent rejection. The point is, within processes of transformation, it reveals the "soul" of a very diverse South Africa. It unmasks perceptions on political power. The painting uncovered the veins of masculinities in our society. It points in the direction of the realities of violence and the abuse of power, as well as deep seated ideas (ideologies) regarding race, sex, sexuality, gender, masculinity, femininity and the human body. To a certain extent one can say that the painting of Brett Murray cut into the nerves of the political dilemma in South Africa. On the 22 nd of May 2012 a red cross was sprayed over Zuma's genitals. There was also an attempt to cover parts of the painting with black paint. Brett Murray's art of resistance met resistance of art due to the blindfolded gaze of political imperialism. According to Philda Essop (2012: 2) the core of the reaction from the side of the South African Communist Party was that the painting is offensive, disgusting and sadistic. It puts all black people in a negative perspective and fuels anew racism. "Only animals walk naked not human beings" (Essop 2012: 2). The depiction of the genitals of a president is seen as disrespectful to the status of the presidency; it is actually 'bad taste', vulgar and touches on the borders of immorality and pornography.
doi:10.5952/53-3-4-260 fatcat:ttns7cvy6za4vorrztxvutxc7q