Nicholas – October 1990

This cycle of works revolves around the event of the murder of Nicholas Cruise on the morning of October 2, 1990. On that particular morning Nicholas Cruise was telephoned and asked to receive a computer that would be sent to him for repair. Nicholas worked for a computer company, which was managed by a group of young South Africans. These concerned young men had been active in the End Conscription Campaign. They also did work for the [then banned] ANC on a contractual basis. However, the motivation for sending a bomb hidden in a computer to this company and Nicholas in particular still remains obscure. Nicholas was blown away as he opened the computer and triggered the bomb. This event abounds with ironies. Nicholas had worked for the company for less than two months. He was a concerned Christian and active in the welfare of his fellow man. But he was not a political activist. Nicholas’ killers were three members of the [extreme right wing organisation] the Orde Boerevolk. These men were apprehended after this event and charged with Nicholas’ murder amongst other crimes. In an attempt to obtain their freedom while awaiting trail the three harnessed their “cause” to the political amnesty agreement, which was in effect at that time. Under this agreement political prisoners were granted indemnity for their crimes. Ironically they had not yet been tried or convicted for the crimes from which they were demanding pardon. The murderers’ initial demands for release were not met and the three embarked on a highly publicised hunger strike.

During the media hype that surrounded this strike no less a personage than Nelson Mandela visited the ailing three and pleaded to the then president of South Africa, FW de Klerk for their release on “humanitarian” grounds! In the months of publicity that followed, screaming headlines made the names of Henry Martin, Adrian Maritz and Lood van Schalkwyk household words. Nicholas was forgotten. His name not mentioned while arguments raged on about whether the three strikers had or had not been eating chocolates while on strike [they had]. Nicholas had effectively been negated; reduced to yet another forgotten number in the litany of mysterious political murders that makes up the South African experience. The cycle of works is an act of mourning. It is also an attempt to redress the balance; to refute the negation of Nicholas. The works explore the ironies involved in these events – the juxtaposition of good men with evil. The link between the murderers and the murdered – a bizarre dance of death – a link that stretches into eternity. The cycle has to do with power, threat, death and the absence of God/god. These ideas encompass all the bizarre inexplicable killings that have littered the South African landscape in the past years. Thus the works while they have to do with Nicholas are also beyond Nicholas. The works are neither portraits nor indeed illustrations. They are a shout against the silence. (1993)