In 2012, artist Marco Cianfanelli created a sculpture as a reminder of the fiftieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962, and subsequent 27-year imprisonment.
I’m a little tardy in discovering this, but I’m glad I did—even though I’ve only seen it online.
The sculpture stands just across the road from where Mandela was arrested, 90 kilometers south of Durban, in South Africa’s Midlands.
The sculpture comprises 50 anchored steel columns, each between 6.5 and 9 meters high. The columns, which are intended to rust over time, symbolize the prison bars that held Nelson Mandela, before he went on to become president of South Africa.
Viewed up close, the sculpture appears to be an aggregation of steel rods. But, amazingly, as you step back to a distance of 35 meters, the 50 linear vertical units lining up to create the illusion of a flat image of Mandela in profile.
Cianfanelli describes the sculpture this way:
“This represents the momentum gained in the struggle through the symbolic of Mandela’s capture.
The 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole; of solidarity.
It points to an irony as the political act of Mandela’s incarceration cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy.”
I’m sure the accompanying images don’t fully do justice to this amazing work of art.
But here are images for those of us who will probably not get to see it live.