To situate this inquiry—visualizing the riot—within South Africa is to take on an overload of imagery, a saturated field, and mechanisms of seeing and framing that risk topical exhaustion, clichéd readings, or indiscriminate generalizations. Critical analysis of the dominant tropes of rioting in South Africa’s visual field, where rioting has powerful historic meaning and contemporary political agency, is overdue. Artists who take on visualizing the riot face multiple challenges, including being aesthetically pigeonholed (politically, nationally, or otherwise). Visualizing the riot in a landscape of complexity and contradiction, where one person’s protest is another’s art, is a delicate affair. The primary subject may be history, the riot, that which “incited” the riot, its visual aesthetic, or all these and more simultaneously. Does focus on the iconography of the riot displace or disenfranchise the realpolitik? Is this an art-historical question, or a matter of and for ethics and aesthetics?

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