South African artist, Tiger Maremela, is exposing hidden secrets and issues the country has always ignored

Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld, a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world – Nelson Mandela.

Tiger Maremela is a South African who is making use of social media, specifically Instagram and Vimeo, to create awareness about South Africa as a ‘Rainbow Nation’ using collages and video clips, a description that fits the country’s multiple races, cultures and backgrounds. According to Quartz, in the past, the ‘Rainbow Nation’ narrative has been made up of strips of the colourful and vibrant and happy parts of South Africa as a nation. “There are some people whose stories are being hidden and torn away. Those are the stories that need to be amplified, and they are the ones whose issues need to be addressed, right now,” says Maremela.

It is a wonderful occurrence when artists let go of societal conventions and political correctness to create art that addresses unpopular issues or even uncommon themes. During a creative session on artistic expression in March 2016, Nigerian poet and writer, Wana Udobang told a team of creative writers that the day an artist decides to consider public opinion before creating art, is the day s/he starts to stop being one hundred percent creative.

As indicated on his Instagram profile, Maremela is also actively involved in promoting art works that show support for the LGBTQI community. Although Tiger Maremela is only 22 years old, he uses his art work to explain the true meaning behind the Rainbow Nation as South Africa is often called. Although it has been quite an age since apartheid in the country, many South Africans still find themselves battling racial divides in some way, a recent example of this is the January 2016 killing of 35 year old Samuel Tjexa and 25 year old Seun Tangasha, who were allegedly killed by four white farmers in Central Parys over overdue wages owed to the deceased men.

For Maremela, however, the intent of his work is deeply rooted in his commitment towards showing Africans that just as there are various cultures and peoples in South Africa, there are varying sexual orientations which should be tolerated by all who come across those who bear these differences. One of Maremela’s work, the Roygbiv series focuses on the re-imagination of black masculinity in post-apartheid South Africa.

“With roygbiv I have been trying to interrogate and re-imagine the myth of the Rainbow Nation by observing black masculinities in post-apartheid South Africa. I’ve used digital collage art to weave together contrasting and complex visual illustrations of the kinds of conversations we are currently having in South Africa. With the project I look at mental health, capitalism, the contribution of black women towards the country’s liberation, the aesthetic integrity of black sub-cultures and a host of other issues that intersect with black masculinities,” he said.

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