Edge of the Light (2016)
Integrating the aesthetic of collage, assemblage and found art, a cabinet of curiosities meets ceremonial altar. Fetish meets artifact. Ritual object meets family photo album. Flotsam and jetsam meet the edge of the bog. Light meets dark.
Born in Kenya, raised in South Africa during apartheid and revolution and living rurally in British Columbia, my art practice examines edges, belonging, real histories, thresholds and relationship with land. I am interested in the supernatural, transformation and ancestors.
Edge of the Light is informed by my exposure to and participation in certain North and South American ceremonial practices and altars, South African Sangoma[i] initiation and sacrificial rituals, African muti[ii] markets and African use of fetishes and ritual objects. Study of European homunculus[iii] and the Jewish golem[iv], tracking my own ancestry and research of Welsh den hysbys[v] and cunning folk[vi] use of magic, charms and dolls are critical in the work.
The project examines notions of paradigm as enforced by language, cosmology and culture. Ideas of the colonial mind are unpacked and visual suggestion given for alternate ways of seeing. The mixed media project includes two installations, Anthropomorphs and Interventions, and two drawing series, Upside Down Mind and Transforms and Anatomical Thought Maps.
The work investigates liminal, unfixed meanings perceived in the space between image and self, sacred and profane, life and death, decay and potential, art and ritual, reverence and irreverence. Outlined themes are explored through image, object, text, invented language, found words and mathematical codes.
An obsessive and serendipitous gathering and sorting of objects, ideas and material are intrinsic to my art process. The hunting of treasures in flea markets of Europe and New York, the gathering of natural objects in the forests of British Columbia and along South African tidelines, the detritus of found objects in my various travels, the collecting of medicine in muti markets of South and East Africa and Oaxaca; all contribute to the storytelling in the work. It is in the re-contextualizing and combining of these elements that new meaning is gathered.
My inquisitive gaze at allegorical edges and in-between spaces is metabolized through art making and process. The created work unsettles the predominant paradigm and presents a different perspective of consciousness
[i] Traditional South African spiritual healer
[ii] Traditional South African medicine
[iii] Creation of a small human being in 16 Century Alchemy, relating “man” to the divine
[iv] Folkloric animated anthropomorphic being created from mud, dating to early Judaism
[v] Welsh medieval practitioners of magic
[vi] British and European medieval practitioners of magic