Karen Kedmey
Apr 28, 2013 6:59PM

During the two week period when Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope) was being installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in the midst of the intensity of helping to manage this exciting project, I didn't have time to think about the strange and inscrutable works of art that began to populate the Cathedral. A combination of logistics and fascination drew me away from my office multiple times a day, to watch Alexander's human-animal hybrid figures emerge from crates and packing materials and come to life as they took up their positions in the Cathedral's corners and in Alexander's tableaux.

Now that the exhibition is open, I've begun to have time to look at it. Among the many ways in which Alexander's work captivates me, is its preternatural symbiosis with the Cathedral space. Opulent, raw, and grand, the chapels and other sites into which her work is set serve as dramatic stage sets. They deepen and shift meaning, make visual details pop, layer more history and more materials onto work that is already deeply layered and full of nuances.

Likewise, Alexander's dark and poetic beings alter and inflect the Cathedral. They make it feel alive, redolent with the confusion, suffering, vulnerability, and power so poignantly conveyed by their expressive faces and bodies--ciphers for South Africa and for ourselves.

Karen Kedmey