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Christine Dixie (March 2008)


Parturient Prospects Opening address by Terry Kurgan 8 - 29 March 2008 The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue Christine Dixie’s exhibition at Art on Paper Gallery explores mental and physical states of giving birth. When this new body of work was made, Dixie was pregnant with her second child, Rosalie, and the exhibition reflects her own experience of pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing. The work investigates those mechanisms by which a woman negotiates her identity as a mother, and the consensual, coercive, and contesting discourses associated with labour and maternity. The exhibition centres on a group of work entitled Parturient Prospects, consisting of two series, one, a series of nine composite digital prints called Birthing Trays and the other called Parturition, five ‘reliquaries’, illuminated wooden ‘cupboards’ wall mounted and containing woodcuts printed on silicon, as well as thread and found objects. Parturient Prospects extends Dixie’s interest in the interior and the psychic effects of the milieu on the individual and she explores a broader milieu than in previous work on the same theme. The relationship between interior and exterior is invoked in a more pronounced way, and she expands the private world of the individual by articulating the way in which the private and the public intersect in such social rituals and practices as childbirth and child rearing, and such performances as constructing a maternal identity for herself. The reference of the exterior is located through various allusions to old maps of the kind explorers would have drawn of the new world. Dixie conflates the female body and newly explored territories, ironically called Interiors in one of her works. Her ‘map’ is adored with illustrations depicting various discourses surrounding the birthing process. These include references to the biblical ‘Annunciation’ and various depictions of ‘The Virgin and Child’, images Dixie culled from such various Renaissance masters as Mantegna, Bellini, van Eyck, Van Cleve, and Masolini, who worked with conventional Christian iconography. These pious portrayals of devout Christian motherhood are subverted by placing various medical instruments related to the facilitation of childbirth in her works. These instruments invoke another aspect of the experience of childbirth, no less that of violation and brutal deflowering of the mother. Dixie subverts medical conventions even further, by questioning the dominant role males play during the delivery, and by foregrounding the importance of the midwife during labour.This she does in a series called Birthing Trays. The trays refer to the Renaissance practice of providing women in labour not only with sustenance, but also with spiritual inspiration for the process. Dixie uses various iconic scenes from the art of the time that depicts caesarian sections, doctors, midwives, and an array of societal personae associated with the birth. The exhibition is a visceral exploration of the mechanisms by which a woman has to negotiate her identity as child bearer and mother. Christine Dixie obtained a BA (FA) at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1988 and a MFA at Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1993. She is currently a lecturer in the Rhodes University Fine Art Department, Grahamstown, South Africa. Solo exhibitions include Corporeal Prospects, Standard Bank Gallery and Durban Art Gallery (2007); Parturient Prospect, The Albany Museum, Grahamstown (2007); Hide, The Millennium II Gallery, Johannesburg , The University of Stellenbosch Gallery and The Albany Museum, Grahamstown (2002); Track, The Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg (2000); FrontTears, The Thompson Gallery, Johannesburg (1998) and The Gendered Gaze, The Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town (1993). Christine Dixie has taken part in numerous group exhibitions, several of which have been accompanied by catalogues. Her work is well represented in public and corporate collections in South Africa.

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Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Wine. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Wine. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Water. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Water. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Milk. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Milk. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Oil. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Oil. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Eggs. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Eggs. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Honey. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Honey. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Fish. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Fish. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Mussels. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Mussels. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Birthing Tray - Chicken Wing. 2006. digital print
Birthing Tray - Chicken Wing. 2006. digital print
Click the image for a view of: Parturition - Vestibule. 2006. illuminated wooden reliquary, woodcut, silicone, found objects
Parturition - Vestibule. 2006. illuminated wooden reliquary, woodcut, silicone, found objects
Posted: 3/8/2008 (12:00:24 AM)


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