Ann Gollifer’s (b.1960) most recent work probes the deep connections between people and the natural world - actually, she expunges any distinctions between them. Human, plant and animal forms are grafted in various combinations - often in stages of metamorphosis and hybridisation - across the three series that we present for CTAF 2018. The layered forms ask and answer questions about how we view ourselves, and how those selves fit into schemas of the social, (political), and natural world. Visually intricate and perceptually dexterous, Gollifer’s works expose the complex entanglements of existence, identity, place and belonging. She taps into feelings of fear and rejection - both personal and shared - to unravel what parts of us are so frightening in the world. ‘People out of place’ best sums up the themes and subjects to which Gollifer most eloquently speaks.
In the series Thinking of You Thinking of Me, Gollifer overlays some of nature’s most feared and spurned animal species onto self-portraits that have themselves been overlaid onto Haarlem hand print fabric patterns. Each layer or surface of these works represents and enhances tensions of dislocation and assimilation. The combination of terrifying animal images with hypnotic nudes both horrifies and delights. Systems of domination including imperialism and patriarchy come into question as Gollifer plays tricks with ideas of the exotic. In Metamorphosis and When You’re Strange, Gollifer elaborates the notion of the exotic even further, and in exquisite detail: what effects does this anthropocene - this age of human impact - have on the planet? How have politics and power defined ecosystems, human ‘races’, language, food, and so forth? What impacts our ideas about who and what belong where?
Gollifer has lived and worked in Gaborone, Botswana since 1985. A multidisciplinary artist, her own navigation of identity informs much of her work: born in Guyana to British and Amerindian parents, she spent her early life in the Solomon Islands and Trinidad before being educated in Britain and eventually completing a Masters degree in History of Art at Edinburgh University in 1983. In South Africa, Gollifer has worked with printmakers Mark Attwood and Joe Legate. She has exhibited at CIRCA Johannesburg (2011) and Everard Read (2009). Her work has been collected by the British Museum (Sainsbury Africa Galleries) as well as by the National Museum of Botswana, the Triangle International Art Workshops and UNISA. In 2016, she was invited to speak at the British Museum about its collection of work by African women artists. An Artist member of the Thapong Visual Art Centre, Gaborone, Gollifer was part of the founding executive committee.
Image rights: Courtesy the artist and Guns & Rain