Ledelle Moe: Ruptures
Moe’s modus operandi is to create concrete sculptures that incoporate the soil of the place she is working in. The sculptor explains the significance of the process in the following way:
Experiencing the particular terrain of each site and creating work on that site [is] a way for me to engage intimately and physically with the very stuff of a place. In digging into the soil and quite literally using it as raw material in making my cement forms I [am] able to reflect on landscape as ground and to literally draw from it. Perhaps this [is] rooted in some longing to better understand how political and personal histories are inherent in the ever-present awareness of place. Or how ground, land, soil, and earth reference a sense of belonging.
During her stay in Neuchâtel, Moe produced a series of small heads in this way to be used in a performance commissioned by the city of Neuchâtel for its celebration of the five-hundred-year anniversary of the Reformation. The performance, which saw the artist and members of the public rub gold leaf from the heads to symbolise historical transformation in general and the rupture of the Reformed Church from the Catholic Church in particular, ties in with themes that Moe has been exploring for some time.
The new work is an extension of an earlier piece entitled Congregation, which was installed on a wall in a map-like formation. In Ruptures, the heads are arranged on a metal structure in what Moe calls a ‘cloud formation’. Moe imagines the heads drifting apart without the structure or being pulled inwards to a point of energy. Thanks to the framework, they have been suspended in space and time. In this frozen conversation, the relation of one head to another and of a single head to a group of heads can be examined at leisure. Moe’s scrutiny of the tension between the singular and the multiple, the individual and the group, the personal identity and the sense of belonging to a collective starts at the very beginning of the process of creation, when she sculpts each head individually from a mix of the ubiquitous, ‘plebian’ material of cement with the local soil of a particular place, and runs through to the final installation of the heads in a group.
Moe’s work has been acquired internationally by numerous institutions and private collectors. Her extensive solo and group exhibitions have been hosted by the Kreeger Museum and the Katzen Arts Center, both in Washington DC, the Perez Museum in Miami and the Biennale Internationale d’Art Contemporain (BIAC) of Martinique, among many other venues. Her large-scale sculptures can be seen at Socrates Park and the Pratt Institute, both in New York City, and The African Museum of Art in Washington DC. She was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award in 2002 and the Kreeger Museum Artist Award in 2008. Moe lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.
Isabel Mertz: Mea culpa and Shrapnel
Mertz’s work examines the concepts of home and the temporal qualities of place, and in so doing attempts to challenge and subvert patriarchal hierarchies in a poetic way.
In the series of drawings entitled Mea culpa, Mertz references ornate features found in sacred architecture and archival war manoeuvre graphs in such a way as to question their violent histories. By introducing deliberate errors in perspective and leaving rough marks from her initial drafting of the drawings - ‘through my fault ’ (Mea culpa) - she creates ‘fault lines ’ in the patriarchal narrative. As the artist explains, ‘These wholly subjective marks, along with a bird’s eye perspective which invites abstraction, reduce and fragment the intricate archival maps and architectural structures to redundant ornate gestures.‘
About Shrapnel, Mertz says:
The installation was inspired by a collection of tin toy soldiers my father collected during the Second World War in Germany. Grappling with these inherited objects and the patriarchal history they carry within them, I set out to manufacture works that were produced by repeatedly re-casting the soldiers in both tin and bronze until the original objects disintegrated.‘
Isabel Mertz is a visual artist and object maker who works and lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She holds a Master’s in visual arts from the University of Stellenbosch. In 2011 she received the Gerard Sekoto award, and a merit prize at the annual Absa L'Atelier art competition. She has participated in numerous group shows in South Africa and recently exhibited in England, France and the Netherlands.