Butcher Boys by Jane Alexander

1649 Words Apr 18th, 2014 7 Pages
Jeremy Steffen
11/30/13
Arts of Africa
DAkpem
Butcher Boys
Butcher Boys is a work of art created by Jane Alexander in 1985-86. Jane Alexander is a caucasian female who was born in Johannesburg South Africa in 1959, and grew up in South Africa during the tumultuous political and cultural atmosphere of apartheid and the fight for civil rights. This location, or more specifically the cultural, social and political aspects of this location, affected Alexander's work,
Butcher Boys. The artist states, “my work has been a response to the social environment I find myself in.
Apartheid happened to be the important political condition at a certain time, and it still impacts my perception of social environments now, here or abroad”. (Dent). Alexander
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The cultural, political, and social circumstances that existed in South Africa during the life of Jane
Alexander greatly impacted her art, and specifically the piece Butcher Boys. To appreciate the meaning of this piece it is necessary to understand the history of South Africa, the origin of the artist. Similar to other
African countries, South Africa was colonized by Europeans including Dutch and later British immigrants.
The discovery of gold and diamonds in the mid 1800s brought an increase in attention to South Africa and therefore, an increase in immigration from European countries. The Zulu, an empire of the indigenous
African population, was defeated by the British and the Dutch in 1879. These white immigrants over time established control of the indigenous populations by creating several laws and limitations. The Native's
Land Act of 1913 assigned 87% of the land in South Africa to the white population and 13% to blacks. The
Mines and Works Act of 1911 assigned menial and manual labor to blacks and skilled labor to whites.
During this time the indigenous population was denied many rights including the right to vote. In 1948, apartheid, a policy of racial segregation, was put into place by the ruling white population. This significantly increased the racial issues in South Africa. In the 1960s and 1970s South Africa encountered upheaval including several strikes and uprisings which resulted in many
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