Willem Boshoff, ‘Alchemical Sigils’, 2012, SMAC

About Willem Boshoff

Conceptual installation artist Willem Boshoff is preoccupied with languages and words—old and new, dominant and subordinate. Boshoff’s works are the manifestation of his exhaustive efforts to uncover obscure words, document dying tongues, or examine the interplay of newly recognized South African languages with their European-tinged counterparts. In Writing in the Sand (2000), the artist used black sand to write words from indigenous languages on a vast field of white sand. His works often mimic the form and function of dictionaries, as in Blind Alphabet ABC (1991-96), a collection of 338 sculptural units, each representing a word in physical form, hidden in boxes and thus only readable by touch. “I work with the idea of knowledge in a package,” Boshoff explains. “How we keep knowledge, package it, store it […] how we process it and manipulate it through art and how we can share it, or publish it.”

South African, b. 1951, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa