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We, The Purple

We, The Purple

The exhibition “We, The Purple” serves as a provocation for audiences to immerse themselves in the exploration of the rich and incongruent tapestry of South Africa's democratic evolution. The collaborative endeavor between the UNISA Art Gallery, Javett-UP, Pretoria Art Museum. Ditsong Museum of Natural History and UP Museums commemorates 30 years of democracy, with a particular focus on the pivotal elections of 1994.


Michael Mmutle

The Purple Rain Protest of 1989, now a symbol of righteous civil disobedience, inadvertently marked a turning point in South Africa’s political landscape as notable defiance led to “the color purple” being embodied by protestors, law enforcement, and buildings creating an indistinguishable, blurring of racial power dynamics in South Africa. Through the evocative use of the color purple, we delve into the soul of Pretoria, capturing the essence of our diverse community through the omnipresent purple Jacaranda trees that transcend spatial boundaries. “We, The Purple” weights as a bold confrontation of the complexities of our post-apartheid identity and meticulously explores the rights enshrined in our constitution through the employment of a diverse range of visual, auditory, and tactile elements, offering visitors a multifaceted exploration of South Africa's lived experiences.

The exhibition stands as a testament to defiance, echoing the legacy of those who bravely challenged the status quo. The symbolic colour purple, reminiscent of the Purple Rain Protest, saturates our narrative, intertwining with the spirit of Pretoria and its iconic purple Jacaranda trees. As these blossoms cascade onto the streets, intentionally reclaiming public spaces, they serve as a powerful reminder of our collective ownership and responsibility, deliberately infusing our surroundings with a sense of freedom and belonging and a call to unravel colonial and apartheid legacies.


Ruth Motau

“We, The Purple” serves as a poignant reflection on the past 30 years of democracy in South Africa, invoking themes of unity, defiance, and the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality. The Selected artworks by artists such as Mary Sibande, Talia Ramikwalan, Tracey Rose, Nkhensani Rihlampfu, Tony Gum, Ruth Motau, Stephanie Conradie, Lefifi Tladi, Marianne Podlashuk, Tommy Motswai, Jodi Bieber, and Berni Searle amongst others contribute to this narrative where the artworks function as active visual archives, reflecting and questioning the past while shedding light on the present realities of South Africa. Through various mediums and artistic expressions, “We, The Purple” evokes notions of a unified future, inspiring viewers to contemplate the complexities of our shared history and the possibilities for collective progress.

Event: Art Exhibition
Running Dates: 2 March – 31 May 2024
Venue: UNISA Art Gallery, 274 Preller St, Muckleneuk, Pretoria, 0002

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We, The Purple

We, The Purple

The Purple Rain Protest of 1989, now a symbol of righteous civil disobedience, inadvertently marked a turning point in South Africa’s political landscape as notable defiance led to “the color purple” being embodied by protestors, law enforcement, and buildings creating an indistinguishable, blurring of racial power dynamics in South Africa.

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