Contested monuments in a changing heritage landscape : that interface between the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, //hapo Museum, Pretoria.
The development of heritage sites in South Africa since the first democratic elections twenty years ago is a continuing process. The post-colonial policy of erecting new monuments in opposition to old colonial and apartheid monuments is ongoing, as is the construction of new heritage sites to redress the biased legacy of the past. This dissertation attempts to unpack this policy by analysing the interface between the Voortrekker Monument and the Freedom Park, //hapo museum as the flagship heritage site of a democratic South Africa and the Blood River, Ncome Museum sites which were the precedent for The Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, //hapo museum in Pretoria. The notion that old monument sites such as the Voortrekker Monument can be reimagined and rehabilitated rather than destroyed is also discussed. This policy is also evident in sculptural heritage sites such as Botha Gardens in Durban with the dynamic between the General Louis Botha and King Dinizulu statues which can be seen as a successful precedent for similar contested sites. The emergence of Nelson Mandela as the preferred face of the Struggle is also discussed in terms of recent sculptures in four locations as part of redressing the legacy of the past. The problem of artistic interpretation is also highlighted through the examples of Andries Botha’s three elephants project in Durban and the King Shaka statue at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban, where political interference caused both projects to be halted. The South African memorial field can also be compared to similar international sites with the fusion of landscape, architecture and sculpture where common markers such as walls of names, paths, water features, eternal flames and the addition of a museum, visitor centre or similar building is erected to contextualise the monument site for visitors. The contents of the //hapo museum are also discussed in terms of Foucault’s theory of the heterotopia and the siting and architecture of the //hapo are analysed in relation to Baudrillards notion that museums are clones capable of being built anywhere in the world from computer models. The elements of Freedom Park are analysed and the question is asked whether Freedom Park is a place for all South Africans to commemorate the past. While the development of separate heritage sites juxtaposed with older sites has been debated, continued cooperation between contested sites such as those of the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, //hapo museum, suggests that reconciliation in the South African heritage field is becoming more of a reality.
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