• The CCAC continues to remind and inspire the South African youth of their heritage and of the sacrifice that was made on their behalf…

HISTORY

The CCAC was built as a symbol of one of the founding principles of the South African Constitution: humanity. In 1994 when the first eleven Justices of the Court were appointed, Justice Albie Sachs and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro were given a modest budget of ZAR10,000 (USD $1,000) to decorate the Courtroom, which was then situated in an office park in Braamfontein. Justices Sachs and Mokgoro did something far more valuable than simply decorate the space; they commissioned an artwork by an artist named Joseph Ndlovu, which would provide a visual manifestation of the underlying principles of humanity. This tapestry was hand woven by Ndlovu and stands as a testament not only to the birth of the Constitutional Court but also as an emblem of the promise of democracy in South Africa.

The CCAC, which now holds over four hundred artworks by internationally acclaimed artists, grew out of this initial decision. Artists, members of the public, and the Justices themselves have donated artworks that Justice Albie Sachs stated would serve to “create a Court that was rooted in our national experience and expressed the many and varied ways in which South Africans envisioned justice.” In addition to the architecturally unique building that was opened in 2005, the Art Collection provides a visual interface for the public entering the highest court in the country. It allows stories of the past to be told in a way that crosses gender, racial, age and class boundaries as a unique and eclectic visual expression of humanity.

The Collection continues to draw visitors from all over the world and along with other national monuments contends as a not-to-be-missed tourist destination. The CCAC continues to remind and inspire the South African youth of their heritage and of the sacrifice that was made on their behalf, to educate them on Constitutionalism and to inspire hope for the future of South Africa as the country moves through complicated states of transition. The CCAC is a monument to the complex emotional experience of trauma that South Africans are still negotiating, almost twenty years after the first democratic elections in 1994; it speaks to the principle of “Never Again” in a way that inspires action, memory and often tears.

The educational heritage and Constitutional value of the Collection far outweighs its substantial economic value. As Justice Albie Sachs argues: “Art and justice are usually represented as dwelling in different domains: art is said to relate to the human heart, justice to human intelligence. Rationality is sometimes seen as inimical to art, and passion as hostile to justice. Our building shows how art and human rights overlap and reinforce each other. At the core of the Bill of Rights and of the artistic endeavour represented in the Court is respect for human dignity. It is this that unites art and justice.”

SELECTED WORKS