Florida Prize 2019 [Write-ups]

florida Prize 2019

Orlando Sentinel

By Trevor Fraser

“I love the cultural diversity of languages and histories of Floridians speaking Spanish, French, Dutch, and Creole, as well as Indigenous and African dialects. The pastiche of faces, stories, and cultures is a living collage that I base my own studio collages on. My intent for the Florida Prize Exhibition is working at the interstices of categories, where photography merges with sculpture or sculpture with installation. Exploring niches that feel both traditional and contemporary. My sculptures, depend upon found materials. I do not see these objects as a representation of “waste” but that of “possibilities,” Where the discarded, the broken, the unwanted can metamorphosize and regain dignity” – Anja Marais

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Orlando Weekly

By Richard Reep and Jessica Bryce Young

…Next we come to Anja Marais. Her area narrows the view to black and white, a deliberate reference to her identity as a white African. Her installation channels piles of white-washed found objects into totems of self and family. Where Kobašlija showed junk misplaced in Florida’s nature, Marais elevates it into sacred cairns. Marais’ beautifully detailed work has a raw, earthy energy…

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By |2019-06-25T20:55:56-04:00June 25th, 2019|

Strand of the Ancestral [catalog]

ELEVEN VOICES was a group exhibition of South African and African Diaspora Artists presented by the Deering Estate in Miami curated by Kim Yantis of the Deering Estate and Rosie Gordon-Wallace of the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator.

Artists include:
Nicholas Hlobo
Anton Kannemeyer
Anja Marais
Judith Mason
Claudette Schreuders
Rowan Smith etc.

The full catalog of the exhibition is available now online.:

VIEW CATALOG

From the Catalog:

A LONG, THIN STRAND OF THE ANCESTRAL

by Anja Marais

In 1994 as an art student, I stood in front of a painting and it left a crack in my young mind where the light started to seep in. The Pretoria Museum of Art was particularly quiet that day and I found myself alone in a room with a work by Judith Mason. A quiet escape from external harshness.

It was a lush painting. Each brush stroke spread like warm chocolate over the canvas building sediment that formed a topography reminiscent of Africa’s many valleys and plateaus. I got lost in this landscape of paint which shaped the body of a Wild Dog bitch. The Wild Dog was a mother with heavy teats, filled with milk. Her pups are not in the picture but her teats were suckled raw and red. She was standing alone in an alerted pose during the hour of twilight – the most dangerous time to leave your pups alone while hunting. She looked strong and vulnerable at the same time.

I have never met Judith Mason but I was one of many artists in South Africa that suckled inspiration from her protean body of work. In my mind, she was Africa’s Mother of Contemporary Art. She spoke up as a female, an artist, a white, a role model, against the misguidance in our society without ever being pedantic or condescending.

“The Wild Dog” painting is one of my favorite works by Mason. It is a metaphor for being an artist. It speaks of the strength and power of servitude. Artists provide nutrition to souls that are hungry and in need, even as the artists themselves are solitary figures that are ambulant in both the light and the shadow of their own psyche. Being always alert while understanding that their vocation comes with a responsibility to the earth and future generations.

Wild Dog, 1962, OIL ON BOARD, 91 X 123CM, COLLECTION: PRETORIA ART MUSEUM

In Eleven Voices I had the opportunity to exhibit alongside South African artists but it was profound for me to have Judith Mason in the exhibition. Her work and her history have become a cyclical thread in my own journey as an artist. She taught me to have a voice as a young art student and to have our voices brought together became a poetic confirmation of my art practice.

In the exhibition, my work “Unforeseen Snow” is a video installation that speaks of utopian pockets amidst the charged politics of South Africa. How love can exist untainted in the darkest of hours. The video is from 8mm film footage of my Mother and Father in love and wooing in the early sixties.  The installation also includes found objects like suitcases, bones, and books that refer to history. Ancestral history of genes, ideas, travels, knowledge, and wisdom. If tomorrow is ambiguous but we are sure of our past, can we carry that with us to make our future clear?  Or is it better to forget our past indiscretions?

I further speak about ancestry and their footsteps in the series “Sole Journey”. In this series of six, the bottom of the inner sole of used shoes is pulled out and displayed. It reveals the hidden pressure, weight, imprints, and stains of the wearer during their journey. What would I have done in my Mother’s and Father’s shoes? An easy question to ask oneself out of context but hard to maneuver in the enclosure of relevant time.

One of my motivations as an artist is aiming to take responsibility for my own history to be the generation that can follow in the shoes of progenitors like Judith Mason and to continue questioning the cycles of cultural inheritance and leave sustenance for artists and generations to come.

Unforeseen Snow, 2016, Video installation and found objects, 51in x 26in x 30in

Unforeseen Snow, 2016, Video installation and found objects, 51in x 26in x 30in

 

By |2018-04-05T10:59:37-04:00January 19th, 2018|

Press from ABMB week 2017

WHITEHOT MAGAZINE: Re-Mixing History: African Women Artists at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017

ARCADE PROJECT ZINE:  The Moment We’re In: Art Basel Miami 2017 Begins

“Far downtown in a former post office, visual artist Anja Marais’s installation Out of Sight; Out of Mind taps into the zeitgeist with large paste-up portraits of immigrants that play with dual perspectives, twisting sight to examine peripheral views of human history. Her images are pasted into corners and archways in the gutted downtown building, creating warped faces that recall distorted views of immigration and its role in history. Marais photographed Miami Haitians who are the children of immigrants. They sat for her portraits and posed as their immigrant ancestors, each holding a tool of their trade.”

Anja Marais immigrant installation

Anja Marais immigrant installation

Anja Marais immigrant installation

By |2018-01-02T12:56:11-04:00January 2nd, 2018|

SFCC exhibition [press clipping]

If you’re interested in the art of here & now, you need to see this show

Yet there are several pieces without much color at all that also fit, thematically, into the artistic landscape of South Florida.

One is a haunting, site-specific installation, hung from the ceiling, from South-African born Anja Marais. As an immigrant herself, as so many are here, she creates pieces that relate to disenfranchised, disconnected communities. In the suspended ripped and torn panels, in black and white, you can discern a poor small farmhouse and fields. Unlike the collage from Mar which hangs behind it, Marais has created this work not by layering and applying, but by a process called décollage, where she manipulates the initial images by tearing and cutting it, also forming a new, unique perspective by elimination.

Inextricable Intertangling, 2017 Mixed media on found fabrics and wooden scaffolding 10 feet x 15 feet x 8 feet

By |2017-07-13T08:53:33-04:00July 11th, 2017|