“This series combines several influences that have personally been relevant to my art-making process. The work grew out of my experimentation with the use of quilting techniques based on traditions from Africa and Gees Bend, Alabama as a way to tell stories and record oral histories. The manner in which individuals in these portrait collages are presented, was heavily influenced by posters from the period of resistance against apartheid in South Africa. The union posters are now iconic examples of the strong printmaking tradition that grew out of resistance and artistic movements that began in the townships, and which often created “heroic” figures out of ordinary people. The individuals portrayed in the portrait collage series are primarily female domestic and farm workers.
The collages themselves consist of a multi-layered, two-dimensional piece. I print images on Mitsumata fiber paper, which is then soaked in shellac to provide a transparency that allows me to rework both the front and back of the image. The transparency of the paper allows me to layer images on top of one another so that the final piece is essentially multidimensional.”
© Ian van Coller, from the series Memory Boards, 2000-2007 (ongoing)
“This body of work deals with the colonial legacies that have become the social and economic realities of a modern South Africa. Each piece is an exploration of how Euro-centered attitudes have affected my personal history, as well as how they helped construct notions of Africa as the “dark continent.” In an attempt to resolve these dramatically different influences on my life, and to come to terms with my place in the world, I have made very specific choices about the images, materials, and the frames. This body of work originated with the idea of Zambian “memory boards” as a way to trace personal memory/history, as well as the social memory/ history of South Africa. The frames themselves are transformed into objects that carry content in and of themselves, rather than merely encasing a photograph. Old family snapshots or culturally significant images and texts are also inserted in the frame, expressing the tension between the African and European influences on my identity.”
more of Ian’s great body of work here