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Ansisters Event August 2005


Detail from the performance 'Patterns Outside My Head' by Janine Lewis, Rantebeng Makapan and Bonisile Nxumalo. As part of the FACE Ansisters 2005 event, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

Copyright © FACE 2005.
All rights reserved.

studio : participants : cheryl gage



Cheryl Gage
Tel/Fax 011 788 2544,
769 0805





The "making-breaking" workshop contextualized my initial ARTUAL (ART+RITUAL) REMEDY, of autobiographical meaning, with the Ansisters project. I had created 3 grass circles by planting and transplanting grass seed outside my studio/house environment. I was subconsciously aware of this propagation, but only endorsed the outcome once I had been through the workshop experience. At the workshop I molded a papier mache vessel from a plastic bowl. The inner "skin" comprised of digital print-outs of the photos of Jakaranda trees that I am dealing with in my artwork. Pics of the trunks lined the outer edge of the bowl, while the top branches and the blue sky interlaced the bottom centre of the bowl. Thus, by looking into the dome of the bowl, you would be looking up at the dome of the sky. The outer layer of the plastic bowl comprised of newspaper strips, white paper (to refer to the white salad bowl used in the first "artual" process), digital prints of the grass circles, and actual grass cuttings from our working environment. Ironically, the newspaper strips came from the Classified section advertised cars - the whole carbon emissions debate...

I now had 3 vessels to contend with! Somehow all three had relevance : the inner layer held the "forest", the plastic bowl structured the shape and is a material presence, and the outer layer represented the grassy floor of the forest. The only way to "break" this container was to burn it...connotations of veld fire, forest fire, funeral pyre. And, the burning process would be true to the transformation of "wood" to ash - paper, tree, ash. To initiate the burn, I used saw dust, newspaper and sticks, hoping that the plastic bowl would melt. The sawdust spat and popped like distant gunfire - reminiscent of the war-zone coverage on TV of late.

The plastic bowl is certainly scarred and slightly buckled, the "tree" layer was smoked by the fire, but removed from the flames in order to serve as the holding vessel of the burnt remains, while the grass layer was reduced to ash.The plastic bowl served as the container for the fire, and is presented alongside the "tree" vessel containing the remaining ashes. 

I feel that the ART+RITUAL enactment has endorsed my personal convictions of past and present historical links.

Posted 02 May 2005,, author: Cheryl Gage