Dogs And Flowers
In 2001, I spent two months in Capetown as a fellow of the iaab (known today as Atelier Mondial). The Woodstock and Observatory neighborhoods, in which I travelled a lot, are formerly ‘white’ neighborhoods where the population became racially mixed after the abolition of apartheid. Single-family houses are the rule, many with flower-adorned front gardens and signs bearing warning about dogs and alarm systems.
In the local stationer’s shop I came across carbon paper for manuscript copies, something I hadn't seen in a long time. The copy-drawings are based on photos from the time of the scholarship. The drawings were then made again in Switzerland. They were shown the following year at the Brendan Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town.
“Markus Schwander’s method of transferring photographs into the medium of drawing has manifold consequences. A unification is achieved by the transformation of the photographic image into a stamp image and the subsequent copying, the intermediate values on the scale between very light and very dark being lost. Although the motifs still appear sculptural, at times they lean towards abstraction and approach the pictographic language of warning signs, nonetheless becoming no more legible. In fact, the effect is the opposite. The motifs become ambiguous images: a dog's head can turn into a flower and vice versa. Thus the contradictory nature of the flowers and warning signs is dissolved into (nightmarish) dream images in a hallucinatory game of deception. Idyll and danger become matters of subjective perception in the drawings, without a blind eye being turned on the social realities of South Africa.”
9 Samuel Herzog, Dogs and Flowers in Cape Town in: Jo Ractliffe & Markus Schwander, Pro Helvetia, 2002