In April 1994, after years of protest, oppression and dissent, the eyes of the world were on South Africa and its first free elections. Would some 16 million people voting for the first time select the African National Congress as the ruling party and Nelson Mandela as president? Would the National Party, the architects of apartheid, be defeated?
Nineteen political parties, representing the country's diverse constituencies, and 91 percent of the electorate participated in this important, tension-filled election, which would also usher in a new parliament and the creation of a non-discriminatory constitution.
"Fowler in Focus — Mandela for President: South Africa Votes for Democracy," on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from April 7 through July 21, documents this landmark moment in South African and world history with election ephemera, textiles, posters and works of art created in response to the end of apartheid. Works include colorful commemorative cloths emblazoned with Mandela's likeness and Hamilton Budaza's print "Vote for Democracy."
This exhibition complements "Ernest Cole Photographer," which features 125 original, rare black-and-white silver gelatin prints by one of South Africa's first black photojournalists and runs from April 7 through July 7 at the Fowler.
The Fowler's South African election art and ephemera, together with Cole's images of the life of black South Africans in the mid-1960s, provide a look at both the earlier years of apartheid and the emotion and anticipation of freedom during the 1994 election.
"Fowler in Focus — Mandela for President: South Africa Votes for Democracy" is curated by Betsy Quick, the Fowler's director of education and curatorial affairs. The exhibition will be on view in the Fowler in Focus gallery, the central space within the long-term exhibition "Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives." Fowler in Focus is dedicated to rotating installations of new acquisitions, sub-collections and particular artistic genres in the Fowler's permanent holdings.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is one of the country's most respected institutions devoted to exploring the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. The Fowler is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA Arts, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for a maximum of $11 in Lot 4. For more information, the public may call 310-825-4361 or visit www.fowler.ucla.edu.