Photograph by Ben Law Viljoen4

Karel Nel – Cipher, 2003

Karel Nel (1955)
Cipher (2003)
Mixed media / / 2440 x 2540 mm
CCAC #0201

Donated by the artist

Karel Nel's Cipher alludes to the early formation of abstract forms that develop into pictograms, hieroglyphics and writing that enables humans to record the events of the world and our innermost feelings. The black form is made of 540 million-year-old carboniferous dust from Eurasia. The landmass Eurasia separated over eons into pieces in a process known as continental drift, which led in time to the evolution of distinct species, races and development of cultures. Over time, these differences have led to racism and its consequences. The dust from Soweto in this work was witness to events relating to apartheid, including the pernicious system of migrant labour. The dust from Denmark witnessed the monitoring of displaced migrants and refugees at the Sandholm refugee camp.

Photograph by Ben Law-Viljoen

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