Michal Kruger

Vetkoek Paleis

Do you recognise this building?
Have you ever tried vetkoek (fat cake)? It's the flat South African version of the Dutch oliebol (deep-fried doughnut). A delicious treat made from flour, baking powder and milk. This golden-fried dough bread can be served as a savoury dish with curried mince or sweet with butter and honey.
Childhood memories
When Johannesburg-born artist Michal Kruger (1994) thinks of Vetkoek, he thinks of Ellen. She lived with his grandmother in South Africa, helping her around the house. It was not because Ellen made the most beautiful fat cakes in the world that Michal has such fond memories of her; it was because her fat cakes were always slightly odd looking.
TV series
The title ‘Vetkoek Paleis’ (Fat Cake Palace) refers to a popular African sitcom with the same name. The first episode was shown on TV in 1996. The whole of South Africa fell in love with one of the main characters: waitress Boeboe from the Vetkoek Paleis restaurant.
Do you recognise the building in this drawing? It’s the Dutch royal palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam. But this one's made from Vetkoek. Only for those with a hearty appetite…
True colours
Compare the colours in this artwork to those found on South Africa’s national flag. It’s no coincidence – just like the flag, the artwork is a mixture of South Africa and the Netherlands.
On South Africa's national flag, you see the red, white and blue also found on the Dutch and British flags. South Africa was once a Dutch colony which later came under British rule. The colours yellow, black and green originate from the African National Congress.
New meaning
South Africa’s flag may be younger than you first thought. It was officially adopted in 1994 as the symbol for a new and better era. At first, the colours did not mean anything in particular but have since come to indicate the following: - Red symbolises blood - Blue resembles the blue sky - Green signifies South Africa - Black represents black South Africans - White represents white South Africans - Yellow stands for the gold that can be found in South Africa
Love letter
And the letter ‘Y’ that’s lying flat? Surely, that's not been chosen just for the sake of it. Two lines conjoin and merge to form one, symbolising national unification.
Who are you?
The artist has mixed various stereotypes and symbols from different cultures. Does your country of birth determine who you are? What is culture anyway?
Kijk eens anders

What would you change about the artwork and why?

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