12 November 2012

Jane Alexander | Surveys (From the Cape of Good Hope)

Surveys (From the Cape of Good Hope) was an exhibition of sculptures by Jane Alexander, a South African artist. The exhibition was organized by the Museum for African Art (MfAA), supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and guest curated by Pep Subiros. Jane Alexander’s sculptures are described as "hybrid mutants that speak to the porous borders between humans and other forms of animal life". "Alexander acts as a surveyor mapping the forces, interests, and passions at play in human behavior. Her sculptures, installations, and photomontages are firmly rooted in her South African experience. Alexander’s body of work throws into relief the asymmetric relations and practices that preclude access for so many people to a free and dignified existence".
Jane Alexander is also known for a previous sculpture installation entitled, "Butcher Boys". I did not enjoy this collection because its combination of naked ribbed human bodies and horned heads was too raw and dark for me. Viewer discretion might be advised for young viewers as it might be frightening.

I enjoyed Surveys (From the Cape of Good Hope) a lot more. The figures in this collection seem a lot more human and relatable. As a viewer I feel intrigued and eager to understand the stories of Alexander's creatures. The combination of human and animal features also reminds me of Frank Ocean who uses similar figures with the head of a panda and lion. It makes one wonder how these could be related. In the past, I haven't seen or paid so much attention to themes of the relationship between animals and humans, but I'm curious to see other depictions and what they could mean.

Sources: Huffington Post, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

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