CITIZEN OF GLASS (2017 – )
FEATURED AT 'BROEIGROND' EXHIBITION, KKNK NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL, OUDTSHOORN
5 – 15 APRIL, 2017
In 2017, Ronél de Jager received the Kanna Award for her multimedia exhibition titled ‘Broeigrond: Fertile ground for golden regrets’.
The show featured the artist's first foray into sculptural practice with a five-work series titled ‘Citizen of Glass'. Each work is a suspended, hand-blown glass bulb containing a precious sample of electroplated Karoo flora.
In the electroplating process, an object is submerged into a chemical solution which transfers nano metal particles onto the flora. Dendritic metallic crystals form on the edges of the surface as the organic object is charged with electricity, forming new fractal patterns. These patterns echo the shapes of flora.
The small units of biological material captured the delicacy and fragility of life and yet also reflected the tenacity of the biological that finds its niche in inhospitable geographies.
‘Citizen of Glass’ is, on the one hand, an expression of the fragility of the human being and also of the threatened nature of our ecology. It speaks of the novel and precariously balanced solutions of life in relation to environment. There is, however, another side. Each globe bares an individual title: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. These individual markers proffer a strange injunction, a jarring projection of familiar place and material onto a cosmic scale. The works remove materials from their familiarity, makes them alien, mysterious, even foreboding under the rule of these hostile celestial bodies. It is a kind of displacement that, like the copper and brass plating, removes the biota from its recognisable qualities of life. Does this suggest an alternative, ponder impossibility, does it warn or offer up hope of unforeseen potentials and necessary transformation?