Hentie van der Merwe Messenger 2007 Polyurethane Mask 68 x 46 x 23cm Stand 150cm
A recent exhibition in South Africa provides an interesting comparison to Melbourne’s ‘jewellery of the forest’. Hentie van der Merwe has been studying the German archive of folktales collected from the Nama people in Namibia. She recognised this tales from her own childhood, though they were excluded from Afrikaner culture because of their violence and complexity.
It’s interesting in today’s South Africa than an Afrikaner artist can draw on this material. It would be inconceivable for an Australian artist to be making reference to Aboriginal mythologies in this way. Is this because of the greater respect for indigenous cultures in Australia, or our more Eurocentrist outlook?