To Touch or Challenge (The Trials of Male Courtship)

To Touch or Challenge (The Trials of Male Courtship)

Date: 1994
Dimensions: W5m x H3m x D6m
Media: Galvanized steel and wire, resin, wax, metal, lead


Part of the “What is a home?” series

Andries Botha on “To touch or challenge”


I made this work on a brief residency in Amsterdam as I was invited to participate in an exhibition called “Triple X”. My friend Marlene Dumas was also a participant in this show. This work, subsequently, formed an element of a much larger work called “What is a Home?” See the website.


As a much younger man, sitting within an explosion of debates and discourses of women’s rights, I began to interrogate some of the fundamentals of what constitutes a masculine identity. It is clear to me that very specific culturally embedded experiences remained powerful in defining gender personality. In my case, most of them came from a blue collar working class environment.


These embedded experiences also happened within the teeth of Apartheid. To say that ones gender and collective identity was contested would be understating the South African point. I wanted to create more of a poetic rather than a didactic narrative, referencing history, early adolescent sexuality, working class garage polemics and, of course, a young man dreaming.