STEVENSON presents two works by Jane Alexander from her retrospective survey, most recently shown at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York
Survey: Cape of Good Hope (2005-9), a series of 54 black-and-white manipulated photographs and photomontage images combined in a large-scale slideshow sequence, will be installed in the first gallery. The images, leading from the rural areas of the Western Cape into the city of Cape Town, refer to historical markers and the postcolonial environment. These include land as a resource, repository and site of human presence, habitation, conflict and migration, considering the social environment in the context of visible economic polarities, endemic violence and the picturesque landscape. Alexander sees this series as a contextual backdrop against which the origin of her sculptured figures can be considered.
The large sculptural installation Infantry with beast (2008-10), comprising a phalanx of 27 marching hybrid figures on a red carpet with a small dog-like creature, will be placed in the second, long gallery. The work alludes to structured social organisation as in the military through which men and sometimes boys are constrained to a system of physical and psychological control by an unaccountable authority, with the appearance of the parading figures reminiscent of African wild dogs. The work refers to the hunting strategies of the wild dog or Lycaon pictus, ‘cursorial hunters’ which live in socialised hierarchical packs of about 20 members, bound by systems of co-dependence and co-operation, not unlike the military.
Jane Alexander was born in Johannesburg, and lives in Cape Town where she is a professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Her work has been widely shown over the past two decades and her acclaimed exhibition ‘Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope)’, curated by Pep Subirós, recently completed a tour that included Brussels’ La Centrale Électrique; the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum in Savannah, Georgia; the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; and the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York. The artist is currently working on a new commission for the exhibition ‘Divine Comedy’, curated by Simon Njami, which opens at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt in February 2014 and tours to museums in Europe and the US.