Post-apartheid masculinity reviewed through the lens of Christian iconography: The work of Conrad Botes and Lawrence Lemaoana

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers selected works by Conrad Botes and Lawrence Lemaoana, who both engage with the notion of masculinity in contemporary South Africa through parodic revisions of Christian iconography. Christianity has a history of underpinning state politics and providing role models for social behaviour, the imagery has therefore permeated Western civilisation and is not only familiar, but is often revered. Transgressive parodies of such imagery, therefore, can be disturbing and are generally aimed at preventing complacent viewing as they encourage viewers to question the norms and controls promoted by the original images. Lahoucine Ouzgane and Robert Morrell (2005, 4), in their introduction to African masculinities, point out that the study of contemporary masculinities emphasises the anti-essential nature of masculine experience-a fact that is particularly pertinent in South Africa. Botes is white and was brought up in a traditional (nationalist) Afrikaans home, whereas Lemaoana is young, black, and part of the post-apartheid generation. Their approach to both masculinity and Christianity addresses the individual difficulties and challenges arising from their respective backgrounds. The author suggests, therefore, that their parodic reinvention of images of Christ questions the notion of ideal masculinity that He personifies and problematises its relevance for the production of masculinity in a post-apartheid, post-colonial and constantly evolving South African society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Conrad Botes
  • Lawrence Lemaoana
  • contemporary South African art
  • masculinity
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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