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Sue Williamson

WilliamsonTony Yengenl—‘wet bag’ torture—Jeff Benzien (1998)

Colour laser prints, wood, metal, plastic, perspex 80cm x 120 cm x 6 cm

Jeff Benzien was a notorious security policeman based in the Western Cape, South Africa, during the apartheid years, who boasted that he could ‘break’ any prisoner in less than 30 minutes with his torture methods, one of which involved tying a wet bag around a prisoner’s head, thus cutting off the person’s air supply. Activist, now parliamentarian, Tony Yengeni was one of his numerous victims. Benzien received amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for all his actions in February 1999.

Joyce Seipei – as a mother – Winnie Madikiza Mandela (1998)

Colour laser prints, wood, metal, plastic, perspex 80cm x 120 cm x 6 cm

In one of its most closely followed hearings, the TRC attempted to establish the degree of culpability of Winnie Madikiza Mandela, known during the apartheid years as ‘The Mother of the Nation’ in the death of teenage activist Stompie Seipei at the hands of the Mandela Football Club. At the urging of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mandela finally admitted that things had ‘gone horribly wrong’

Truth Games Series

“The Truth Games: the Series attempts to consider the role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the healing process of post-apartheid South Africa through a series of interactive pieces. Between 1996-98, the TRC heard hundreds of cases which probed the violence of the apartheid years, and although the process was inevitably flawed, it was crucial in uncovering the past.

Each piece in the Truth Games series pictures an accuser, a defender, and an image of the event in question. At no time are all three images visible, as text taken from the transcripts and printed on slats obscures sections. Viewers are invited to slide these slats across different parts of the images to conceal or reveal parts in an attempt to replicate the action of the country in trying to decide whether the truth was being spoken or still hidden.”

—Sue Williamson


Sue Williamson was born in Lichfield, England in 1941. She emigrated to South Africa in 1948. Williamson studied art at the Art Students League of New York from 1967-69 and in 1983 received an Advanced Diploma in Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. Since then she has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, and received a number of awards and fellowships, including a visual art research fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. In addition to her artistic practice, Williamson is also a prolific writer on contemporary South African art, the founding editor of ArtThrob, a monthly online magazine, and contributing editor to Contemporary. She lives and works in Cape Town. In 2009, her book South African Art Now will be published by HarperCollins New York, and her new art installation 50 Letters to the Revolution will be shown on the Havana Biennale in Cuba.

Further Information

Hassan, Sala, Ed. Beyond Visual Pleasure: A Brief Reflection on the Work of Contemporary African Women Artists




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