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Awakening of the bones through art.

A group of young, talented artists came together to show their interpretations of Ezekiel 37 which was the theme of the alternative Art of Breathing exhibition.

They showcased their interpretations through any medium they could find: photographs, paintings, poetry, performance art (fire dancing), sculptures, music and even a bizarre short film.

Ezekiel 37 is set in a valley of bones seen in a vision by Ezekiel. God asks Ezekiel: “Son of man, can these bones live?” He answers that only God knows. God commands him to prophesy over the bones: the bones come alive with flesh and sinews and God breathes life into them. (King James version)

The following artists: Xenia Roos, Ancois Barnard, Louise du Plessis, Ingrid van der Merwe, Juanrie Ferreira, Walter and Zoe van Zyl, Jaques Malan, Donné Malan, Martin Gouws, Annari du Plessis, Franci Dorfling and Jandré Brink works’ were arranged throughout the hall lit by candlelight. Their artworks look deeper and cuts to the core.

The artists are from a very close-knit group of friends that makes up some parts of the alternative community in Hatfield. They previously contributed to two Art of Breathing booklets and they decided to host an exhibition for the third installment.

The art exhibition were held at the New Church right across from the Sheraton Hotel in Wessels Street on Saturday 6 July. Guests were greeted by Louise du Plessis and Ross Pickersgill’s fire dancing at the entrance. They twirled lighted staffs around and Louise further wowed the crowd with her fire breathing skills. She has been doing it for the last 3 years – even at some weddings! They also did some poi with their chain toy creation. (Poi is a form of dance where weights on the end of thethers are swung through rhythmical patterns).

Louise demonstrates fire breathing

Ross Pickersgill fire twirling

I talked to some of the artists to hear the stories behind their art:

Xenia Roos made a statue of bones with the words of Jeremiah 20:9 carved into the bone “And I can’t stop! For if I say I’ll never again mention the Lord – never more speak in his name – then his word in my heart is like fire that burns in my bones, and I can’t hold it in any longer.” (The Living Bible). The Word that God spoke to each and everyone of us – that Word will be like a fire that burns in your bones and I won’t be able to keep it quiet any longer.

Xenia Roos' bone sculpture

Xenia Roos bone sculpture close up

Ancois’s Performance art

At first glance her artwork looks like a random array of newspapers stuck over each other. When I asked her to explain her artwork to me, she ripped off a piece of newspaper. I was puzzled. She then explained that the newspapers symbolises the masks she wears and that God comes and rips it off to reveal the true “Ancois” he made. Her inspiration is from where the angel of God asks Jacob “What is your name?” so as if to say: Are you ready to be the person I wanted you to be? “My artwork symbolises the process of God that rips off the masks and asks me ‘Am I ready to be the person he planned out for me to be?’”
With every piece of newspaper that is ripped away a piece of a self portrait is revealed.

Ancois' self portrait revealed

Ancois was also responsible for a series of photographs and sketches of the heart. “The 120 Black and White Film photos are to show how the face of the church has changed. That even the alternative community should awaken and follow Him, said Barnard.

Ancois Barnard 120 B&W photograph

Ancois Barnard Face of church has changed

“The hearts entitled Awakening of emotions tells my story of how my heart was in pieces and I couldn’t feel a thing. God came to give me a new heart to beat for Him. With the new heart I can truly love people and find joy in the smaller things in life,” she added.

Ancois Barnard's  Awakening of emotions

Ingrid van der Merwe:
This person or skeleton in the picture “is a preacher who practises fire baptism: baptising people with fire like Jesus did, but only after his own flesh is burned away it reveals his true or God’s nature. He is more alive with bones than with flesh. The dark cloud symbolises God that usually uses this disguise to reveal Himself to his people.”

Ingrid van der Merwe's preacher

Juanrie Ferreira:
“When I did the research on my piece I came upon other verses related to the theme of Ezekiel 37. I especially focussed on Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (King James version). The oil painting is about we as human beings that chase after idols in our search for happiness, but it leaves us burnt out. We seek happiness. The bones in the desert shows that if we praise God even in the hardest times – only then we can heal and become whole again.”

Juanrie Ferreira's interpretation2

Annari du Plessis: jewelry stand. Some of the jewelry parts are inside pieces of watches. She started making jewelry in August last year when she couldn’t find work. She makes everything by herself and enjoys every second of it.

Annari du Plessis' jewelry stand

Some satire can be found in the works of Jacques Malan: especially in his work entitled “Cheesus Christ”. (photo caption)

Donné Malan
Donné explains the three figures in her artwork as such:
The woman in the foreground resembles a perfect human being, but without God’s breath, her flesh is dead. The second figure receives the breath from the heavens and starts to move. The third figure shows her fulfillment with God: she reigns over the flesh (the body).

Donné's interpretation

Zoe van Zyl
Zoe is responsible for the most artworks of the evening: she submitted poetry, paintings and sculptures. Her personal favourite artwork is called Water of life. She wanted to show the irony that while the man is in the desert and thirsting for water – by ripping his chest open blood and water spills out of him. He had water in him all along. She links it to when Jesus was crucified on the cross and the soldier pierced his side with a spear: “blood and water flowed out”. (John 19:34)

Zoe van Zyl's personal favourite

Short Film

The short film was not for the faint-hearted (or easily upset stomachs). It shows a family sitting down for dinner. Their eyes are covered with a sort of putty mix. They start feasting on rotten fruit and decayed flesh, drinking something that resembles blood. Someone brings a platter of fresh food, but they reject it. One of the eaters starts to throw up and the others shout angrily at him. The film ends where he pulls the putty off of his eyes.

The film features the talents of Anneke van Blerk, Gerhard Jacobs, Ingrid van der Merwe, Walter van Zyl and Reep the rat.

“We were blind for four straight hours during the making of the film,” said Gerhard Jacobs.

When asked after the screening, Walter van Zyl (who came up with the concept) explains that the rotten food are symbols for all the lies we are fed by the world system and its authority figures: ranging from teachers, preachers in the church and political figures. Because the family are blind, they cannot see the lies they are fed. They also cannot see the fresh food (the truth) and so they reject it. The film shows the process of becoming aware of this fact (through Walter’s character) where he starts to throw up. The people screaming at him resembles the authority figures that eats up their own lies.

There is somewhat of a happy ending: the rat featured in the film got a home. Walter and Zoe decided to adopt him.

Walter’s other artworks included a poem and a statue. The statue resembles a human body is the humans that live like robots: we get up, we eat, work, go to sleep. The statue is undergoing an operation. The mechanical parts are removed and the body receives a new heart. The statue shows how we regain our humanity by receiving a new heart in Jesus Christ.

Walter van Zyl's sculpture

The heart and mechanical parts

The guests could enjoy wine, bread, cupcakes while being in deep conversation pondering over the artworks.

Art of breathing originally started out as a booklet, a publication within which various artistic treasures could be found; initializing a multifarious collection by diverse artists. Since it’s birth, two of these booklets have been put together: Art of Breathing 1 & 2.

A DVD will be compiled consisting of videos, music and art from the exhibition, that will feature in the third Art of Breathing #3 design.

Jacques Malan and Jandré Brink deep in conversation with Christo Prinsloo

Man in a box 2