Seriti Institute administered the Reconciliation Provocation Monument project on behalf of the National Lottery Commission (NLC), managing a budget of R12,578,480.00 over a period of three years.
The aim of the project was to stimulate discussion about the concept of reconciliation, in a country riven by racial and class inequality, and to bring challenge about ongoing commitments to deal with the trauma of the past that continues into the present.
It brings African values and wisdom to bear on the modern day context and has sparked dialogues around African spirituality, pre-colonial history and the enrichment of modern culture. The project has helped to forge understanding among South Africans from all walks of life about the crucial importance of art (monuments and memorials in particular) in building and developing the national psyche. The project hosted several “Open Studio” days which were free of charge and attracted 50 to 200 participants, many being young people and children.
The monument comprises twenty massive stone sculptures. The works provide a visual record of South Africa’s history from the pre-apartheid era, through the time of Apartheid and the anti-Apartheid struggle, to the current period of democratic governance. The works are carved from Zimbabwean black granite, South African Belfast granite and Rustenburg black granite, as well as white marble requisitioned from Carara, Italy. Several sculptures combine stone and metal elements.
Trainees were recruited and capacitated. Previously unemployed, the trainees have been exposed to the full range of skills and techniques employed by Professor Pitika Ntuli. They have learnt carving and cleaning of wood, bone, metal and stone, and have gained skills in using equipment such as an angle grinder and an arc welder. The group of trainees also acquired an understanding of visual art, including drawing, painting and sculpture.
The nature of the work on this Reconciliation Provocation Monument has meant that the group has also become more aware of South Africa’s history in the pre-colonial and colonial days, the struggle against Apartheid and of some of the challenges facing the country under democracy. Trainees were also empowered to the point where they were able to host visitors confidently and take them on a tour of the Studio.