Arts, Culture & Heritage

The Shadow Boxer

Last Updated: July 30, 2023
Artist

Marco Cianfanelli

A Brief History

The thematic motivation stems from the photograph by Bob Gosani of Nelson Mandela sparring on the rooftop of a building in the neighbourhood.

The artwork celebrates the role that Nelson Mandela played in the area, his enjoyment of boxing as a sport and the parallels with his battle against apartheid. Lighting is a key part of the installation, and at night the sculpture casts a shadow onto the Magistrate’s court.

 

Description

The Shadow Boxer is a large figure of Mandela boxing, made from painted mild steel, 5-6 metres high.

The sculpture highlights the significance of boxing as a potential metaphor of the legal system, specifically in South Africa during the 1950’s, as well as a representation of Mandela during this significant time in South Africa’s history.

Boxing is a sport and a physical contest, an ordered and controlled system of combat and contestation. The parameters of boxing consist of rules of engagement, for which the ring is the context of the field. The courts (Magistrates Court) are the context of the legal system, where prosecution and defence are metered out according to the law.

Mandela boxing is symbolic of the fight for equality, dignity and human rights, through the vehicle of the South African legal system. Given the law under the newly emerged Nationalist Government and apartheid, the notion of the boxing ring is ironic, as the champions of the struggle were effectively boxing outside of the ring or at least, a ring that was distorted and biased in its nature.

The sculpture serves as a symbolic reminder of the potential for disparity between Law and Justice and the need for transparency and accountability in the service of the rights of all citizens and residents. Its position in relation to the main entrance of the Magistrates Court signifies the site as one of public engagement.

 

Artwork Signage

The thematic motivation stems from the photograph by Bob Gosani of Nelson Mandela sparring on the rooftop of a building in the neighbourhood.

The artwork celebrates the role that Nelson Mandela played in the area, his enjoyment of boxing as a sport and the parallels with his battle against apartheid. Lighting is a key part of the installation, and at night the sculpture casts a shadow onto the Magistrate’s court.

 

Location & Address

Fox Street Cnr Gerard Sekoto Street, Ferreirastown. Sidewalk outside the Magistrates’ Court.