South Africa: Ours Is a Country in Desperate Need of a Better National Myth

The craft of nation-building must be accompanied by an effective and believable national myth, in art, as in life.

This article was originally published in January 2020. It has been updated to reflect more recent events.

Fook Island is one of South African abstract artist Walter Battiss’ (1906-1982) most celebrated concepts. It is an imaginary place inspired by his travels to several islands during the 1960s and 1970s, including the Seychelles, Zanzibar, Fiji, Hawaii, Madagascar, the Comoros and Samoa. During the 1970s, he conceptualised a land with its own stamps, currency, publications, passports and “fooklore”, and invited other artists to join him on the island. Together with artist Norman Catherine, they created work commemorating creatures and legends of the island, and its ruler King Ferd III (Battiss), descendant of one Ferdinand who arrived on the island back in 1723.

Fook Island print by Walter Battiss A portrait of King Ferd III, as presented in 2013 as part of ‘Stuffed Moonwhite Trout and Twilight Sauce: Walter Battiss and Norman Catherine Fooking Around’, an exhibition showcasing ‘Fookian’ work Battiss and Catherine created together. Photo by Layla Leiman

Much has been written about Fook Island, some suggesting Battiss was creating a world far…


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Author : Daily Maverick

Publish date : 2021-07-13 15:45:45

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