Christine Dixie (ZA). Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things

Exhibition time: 13 07 2023–06 08 2023
Opening: July 13 | 18:00
Meno Parkas Gallery (Rotušės a. 27, 44279 Kaunas, Lithuania)

It is already the second time that Meno Parkas Gallery has an opportunity to presenting works by the artist Christine Dixie in Lithuania, in 2018 her installation “To be King” were shown during the contemporary art festival “Kaunas in Art” and where greatly perceived by the visitors. This time the artist comes back to Kaunas with her solo exhibition “Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things”.

The title of the exhibition plays on the title of the 1966 book The Order of Things, by Michel Foucault. The first chapter, Las Meninas, examines the painting Las Meninas by Velásquez that was painted in 1656. This essay, etched into copper plates, became the matrix from which series of prints, artist’s books, a video, and veils have been developed. The text is variously disrupted through absences, gaps, and overlays. The disrupted text is an attempt to find a visual metaphor for the way in which an ordered world, grammar, has been rendered disordered. At this exhibition in Meno Parkas Gallery the series of veils titled “Blueprint for a Breathless World” along with the video “Blueprint Sequence” will be exhibited.

Across the veils, which are the pages of the chapter Las Meninas three characters interact, overlap, and infect one another: the ‘princess’, from the painting Las Meninas by Velásquez, a Plague doctor and a dog that bears witness to the narrative unfolding before him. The princess appears as a self-generating creative force, often with a paintbrush in hand, the plague doctor is a harbinger of death. In this installation the two figures at times overlap and merge into a single entity, it is not always clear where one begins and the other ends. The landscape in which this takes place depict mountain ranges that map the rise and fall of the pandemic, but equally refer to the Bubonic plague in the seventeenth century. In the night sky above float spacecrafts and astronauts, attached to the astronauts are the tubes and oxygen tanks needed for breathing. Below the tumult, in the quiet depths, swim schools of salmon.

“What is so clearly also at play in this work, expressed perhaps most poignantly in Dixie’s video work, with its sounds of inhalation and expiration, its use of umngqokolo throat singing by women in the Eastern Cape, its beeping and sighing ventilator, is an acute awareness of the frailty of the planet and the tenuousness of our place in it. Things are turned upside down, to be sure, and this body of work is a site of mourning, death and, in its most optimistic moments, regeneration. Perhaps the most haunting motif in Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things, is the arrival, traversal, and departure of the car in the video. The depiction of twin headlights lighting up the dark, approaching as though home is being reached, is a gesture that is – almost unbearably – poetically wistful. The lights suggest a way through, an arrival, but also perpetual departure and loss.”1

1Exerpt from an essay “The Dog in the Night: Christine Dixie’s Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things.” by Professor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. (Wits University).


About the artist

Christine Dixie is an established South African artist, who has regularly exhibited in that country, the US and Europe. She is primarily a printmaker, but her art also finds expression through films or elaborate installations. Her work challenges the ways gender roles have been historically conditioned by society, myths, and image-making. The manifestation of the colonial history that haunts the town of Makhanda, (the Eastern Cape city where she lives) has compelled her preoccupation with Europe’s legacy in Africa.

Her practice and aesthetic rely on archival imagery and in-depth research. Her work is included in national and international collections including The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Standard Bank Gallery, The Johannesburg Art gallery, The Durban Art Gallery, the Iziko National Museum of South Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum of Art.

International group shows include Earth Matters: Earth as Material and Metaphor curated by Dr. Karen Milbourne (2007) and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists curated by Simon Njami (2012), both of which opened at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Her installation To Be King was part of the Personal Structures exhibited at Palazzo Bembo in Venice (2017) and was shown at the International Festival at the Coronet Cinema in London, the Kaunas in Art Festival in Lithuania (2018) and the Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany (2022).

Recent exhibitions include @Bathurst St., Makhanda at the Gallery of the SARChi chair at the University of Johannesburg and her series of prints Harbouring Fanon at the Graham Contemporary Gallery (2022). Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things which Things opened in April 2022 at the Wits Art Museum is a body of work which continues themes that are linked to her To Be King installation.