Seeing through the lens of Nelson Mandela

Local artist pays tribute to freedom, democracy and Mandela’s legacy.

6 November, Cape Town: On the eve of South Africa’s 20 years of democracy, local artist Michael Elion pays tribute to the late Nelson Mandela in the unveiling of a giant set of stainless steel spectacles art installation. The installation, entitled Perceiving Freedom is an official World Design Capital 2014 project and was initiated by Art54.


The sculpture, Perceiving Freedom

“PERCEIVING FREEDOM is a sculptural tribute to Nelson Mandela, the nation of South Africa and the concept of freedom itself on the eve of 20 years of South African democracy. This giant set of stainless steel spectacles looks out in contemplation towards Robben Island and sets up an axis and dialogue with our country’s history. It links us to the mind of a man whose incredible capacity to transcend enduring physical hardship, with unwavering mental fortitude and dignity, transformed the consciousness of an entire country and left a giant and lasting legacy to the world,” said Elion.

According to Elion the sculpture asks the question: how did Nelson Mandela perceive the world? And, what does it mean for each of us to be truly free? “The lenses in the sculpture are clear, they symbolise the invisible barriers and prejudices that exist in our perceptions and shape the way we view the world. Do we see the island as a paradise that represents our hopes and dreams or is it actually a prison and place of banishment?  PERCEIVING FREEDOM is a testament to the power of the mind,” said Elion.

World Design Capital, CEO Alayne Reesberg, was present to officially unveil the sculpture, “In all, the designation created an opportunity to showcase local ingenuity and capability, firstly to ourselves, and secondly to the design community. This goes beyond Cape Town’s established credentials as a world class tourism destination. Cape Town is still a deeply divided city, but all change starts with a dream. World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 has given us permission to imagine a different kind of city – one that celebrates achievements even as it strives to create even better outcomes for its citizens. Michael Elion’s gift to public art fits in with one of our themes of Bridging The Divide and the social cohesion we have strived to create this year through the various design projects and initiatives in the WDC 2014 programme. The Perceiving Freedom sculpture is also a fitting tribute to the late Madiba and our 20 year celebration of democracy, and it is a stark reminder that we have a long way to go when you look at the world through the eyes of another,” said Reesberg.

This enormous sculpture was created in the iconic WayfarersTM style and is made from hundreds of pieces of stainless steel plates welded together and fitted with polycarbonate lenses. Weighing in at 1200kg, this 8m x 7,5m x 2,5m structure will stand on the promenade for the public to enjoy for the next two years. The sculpture was sponsored by Ray-Ban and Brand Manager Thera van’t Hof spoke of the sculpture’s significance, “We are honoured to have been part of this project bringing this installation to life. Ray-Ban has always been instrumental in pushing boundaries in music and the arts. It is truly special that we have the opportunity to play a role in the creation of a piece that has such significance in both the artistic realm and the social one.”

“The placement of the Giant Spectacles in this beautiful open space is another example of our caring and open city. Twenty plus years ago some areas were only for a privilege few but today we stand in a public space with public art which is being enjoyed by every single Capetonian and visitor to our city.  I am extremely proud to have this artwork form part of ART54,” said Jacques Weber, Ward Councillor for The City of Cape Town – Atlantic Seaboard Ward 54.


PERCEIVING FREEDOM forms part of ART54 and World Design Capital 2014 for more information visit www.michealelion.net.

#WDC685, #perceivingfreedom #raybansa