n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Materialising HIV/AIDS in the Keiskamma Altarpiece
|Article Title||Materialising HIV/AIDS in the Keiskamma Altarpiece|
|© Publisher:||University of Pretoria|
|Journal||Image & Text : a Journal for Design|
|Affiliations||1 University of Johannesburg|
|Publication Date||Jan 2014|
|Pages||45 - 71|
|Keyword(s)||Altarpiece, Embroidery, Gender, HIV/AIDS, Keiskamma and Materiality|
Made by the Keiskamma Art Project in Hamburg in the Eastern Cape, the Keiskamma Altarpiece (2005) speaks of a community negotiating the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS virus. The work is modelled after the Isenheim Altarpiece (1512-1516), which was commissioned by the order of St Anthony to provide hope and comfort to victims of ergotism, a gangrenous skin condition, and which (prior to being disassembled) comprised two sets of folding wings with oil paintings by Matthias Grünewald and a central "shrine" with sculptures by Nikolaus Hagenauer. The Keiskamma Altarpiece substitutes the oil paint and limewood carvings of the Renaissance source with embroidery, beadwork and digital photographs.
In this article, I use the idea of "pointure" as the starting point for suggesting how the choice and treatment of materials in the Keiskamma Altarpiece might be read in associative terms. Drawing on the theories of Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger along with work by Norman Bryson, I also explore how the treatment of materials affects the ways in which the work may be comprehended, and propose that a series of visual devices are used which encourage the beholder to experience a sense of being invited into a nurturing milieu associated with a process of healing, which is orchestrated and managed by women.
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