The Matrices

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CHRISTINE DIXIE The Matrices

22 February - 31 March 2020



The Matrices noun, plural ma·tri·ces [mey-tri-seez, ma-] , ma·trix·es. something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops: 1325–75; Middle English matris, matrix < Latin matrix female animal kept for breeding (Late Latin: register, orig. of such beasts), parent stem (of plants), derivative of mater mother

The Matrices is the next iteration of a project started in 2010, entitled The Binding. The Binding engages with the psychological and social implications of the story of the Aquedah (the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham). Core to this engagement is an exploration of the complex traversing of space as artist and mother - distance is required as observer/ artist and closeness needed as a mother in relation to my son. In the installation The Binding, one of the ways in which the presence of the mother is indirectly conjured is through the use of materials associated with ‘woman’s work’ such as a crochet blanket and embroidery. These were the materials that left their deep impression, their trace, in the white woven paper through the use of collagraph.


In The Matrices I returned to the matrices from which the final etching/collographs were printed for the print component of the installation in order to create the relief sculptures which constitute this series. Materiality is foregrounded in the act of creating and re-creating dimensional objects which are constituted in part from the original matrices. For the works To Sleep II and To Dream II, I asked a woman in Grahamstown/ Makhanda who went by the name of Tannie Anna to crochet the blankets. The sheepskin used for the work Offering II was bought at the tanning school on the outskirts of the town and ‘sheared’ with a pair of scissors, the soft wool falling onto the floor. For the work Bind II I wrapped the boy’s body In layers of bandage and glue. In her essay Paternity and Intertextuality in Christine Dixie’s The Binding Deborah Seddon noted, “Dixie observes that her work towards The Binding began to take shape with her realization that “the flagrant visibility of my pregnant body, its excess” seemed in stark contrast to the body of the father of her child, for whom “the outward signs of eminent fatherhood” were “noticeably absent.” One of the ways that The Matrices differs from previous iterations of The Binding is that the mother’s embodied gaze is literally present through the inclusion of the work Captured II. In this work a pregnant woman looks through the lens

of a camera. The copper plates for the print were cut and mezzotinted while I was pregnant with my son. The work was an attempt to return the gaze (inquisitive, desirous, envious, repulsed, medical) that was directed at me while I was pregnant. The Archaic origin of the word matrix is the womb. In Captured II, both the matrix and the womb are represented - through the material function of the copper plate as a matrix and through the visual depiction of the womb of the pregnant woman. Time collapses as the pregnant woman in The Matrices whose womb holds the son is gazed at but also gazes at her son through the mechanism of the camera. This gaze is further complicated by the mirror within the camera which returns the gaze of the viewer. Seddon notes that ‘The Binding, in making us inhabit the view of the father, while witnessing the experience of the son destined for sacrifice, asks the viewer (whatever our own gendered identity) to reckon with our own complicity. What is revealed is how we too have been bound, socialized into a view of the male child. Introducing the presence of the mother and the camera/ mirror in The Matrices series further complicates this viewing position, putting into motion as Seddon suggests ‘a provocative discordance of identification’.


Christine Dixie A South African artist whose training in printmaking has extended into installation, Dixie’s work is predominantly focussed on two interlinked concerns, the visual strategies deployed in frontier landscape representation and the narratives used in constructing images of gender. Her work is intent on drawing the viewer into a mesmeric yet disquieting space. A deceptively calm surface is disrupted by an undercurrent, a counter-narrative that threatens to disrupt a tenuous vision of logic and stability. Her installations embrace multiple mediums including sculpture, embroidery and video but often originate in the medium of print.

In 2007 Standard Bank Gallery exhibited a mid-career exhibition of her work and in 2012 she was awarded an Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. Her work is represented in national and international collections including The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Johannesburg Art Museum and the Iziko National Art Museum. The installation The Binding, 2010, which examines the relationship between sacrifice and male identity, was acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Her latest multi-media installation, To Be King was exhibited in Venice and London and is due to be exhibited in Johannesburg and Germany.


Captured II (detail) (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

To Dream II (2010-2019), Copper and crochet blanket, 1 100mm x 750mm.


Captured II (detail) (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

Bind II (2010-2019), Copper and bandage, 1 100mm x 450mm.


Captured II (detail) (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

Offering II (2010-2019), Copper and sheepskin, 1 100mm x 750mm.


Captured II (detail) (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

Burning II (2010-2019), Copper, 1 100mm x 450mm.


Captured II (detail) (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

Blind II (2010-2019), Copper, 650mm x 450mm.


Captured II (2020), Copper, wood, mirror, 1100mm x 700mm.

To Sleep II (2010-2019), Copper and crochet blanket, 1 100mm x 750mm.


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