Promised land

Jubilee, 2004
Masincedane Sport CC vuvuzela, electronics, air
Dimensions variable
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'Jubilee' is a plastic soccer trumpet (a vuvuzela) that sounds when someone enters its immediate vicinity. The horn floats high on a wall at the angle a herald would hold it, at the angle of the distorted skull that intrudes into Holbein's famous painting, 'The Ambassadors'. The horn's Orlando Pirates logo has been partially erased, to leave only the image of a small white skull on a pitch-black horn - a death's head in a sea of black. The sound of the horn has been made deeper, more dirge-like.

The Jubilee year is a Biblical commandment; every 50th year was decreed a period of emancipation and restitution, in which land was returned to its former owners, and slaves were freed. It was announced by the blowing of trumpets (the word 'jubilee' comes from the Hebrew for a ram's horn, the original trumpet used).

'Jubilee' is both an alarm and a pressure-release, like the whistle on a steam-engine, of the fomenting discontent of so many people who have very little in South Africa, and which demands a Jubilee, a restitution. The vuvuzela is a black cultural object, both in contemporary use and in it's ancestry, and can be seen as a racial divider - used at soccer matches, by predominantly black fans, while it is banned from the predominantly white sports of cricket and rugby. The large majority of poor people in South Africa are black, in a multi-racial society. 'Jubilee' sounds a warning both mournful and strident.

The vuvuzela is a cultural object under stress; the vuvuzela used in 'Jubilee' is one developed by Masincedane Sport CC, "a black-owned, Proudly South African, local sports promotions company, an initiative of the South African Breweries Kick-Start Youth Entrepreneurship programme."(1) One way in which SAB-Miller helped the company was by "offering to get their lawyers to file an application to register the name 'vuvuzela' as a trademark for his company in South Africa".(2) But "soccer fans have been using vuvuzelas for many decades, long before Masincendane Sport came onto the scene, and [they] probably come from the traditional use of kudu horns".(3) The Nazareth Baptist, or Shembe Church in Inanda says that the vuvuzela was first used by their Prophet Isaiah Shembe in 1910, and continues to be used by their church members when they dance during worshipping. They are concerned with the trademarking of the vuvuzela name for commercial purposes by one company.(4) Intellectual property laws are a site of conflict in South Africa, which, like much of the developing world, is under pressure from northern countries to enforce copyrights and trademarks.

Jubilee was a Brett Kebble Art Awards finalist in 2004.

1. http://www.proudlysa.co.za/level2/results.asp?include=/docs/news/2003/1105.html
2. http://www.dispatch.co.za/2004/06/02/SouthAfrica/bvuvu.html
3. http://m1.mny.co.za/bob.nsf/0/C2256DF0003C9356C2256EE000467B06?OpenDocument
(source now offline/unavailable)
4. http://www.dispatch.co.za/2004/06/02/SouthAfrica/bvuvu.html

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