February - April 2022 — Visual Arts
Dunja Herzog lives and works between Basel, Lagos and Pretoria. Her work is influenced by the effects of African – European history on personal narratives and materials, which come together in mindful and poetic installations. Dunja was an artist in residence in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2009 through the Atelier Mondial international residency exchange programme. She now returns for a residency in Johannesburg from February to April 2022 and hopes to become reacquainted with the city of today, as well as develop several projects.
Dunja has a long-standing preoccupation with the global copper trade, which she has explored through numerous projects such as the conceptual jewellery collection Red Gold Import Export. It also formed the bases of her research trip in Zambia in 2020 to meet local artisans and miners. Through this research the theme of “mining” has become resonant in her work, in both the literal mineral extraction sense as well as the symbolic political, social and psychological sense. This has in turn brought to the surface the notion of “healing”, which Dunja is now interested in exploring in relation to an art context and for her work.
Dunja explains, “I’m fascinated by the ability of copper to conduct electricity and thecapability of brass to store and regulate energy transmission. I’m also interested in the ability of sonic waves to influence and interact with living systems.” This interest was inspired by the very powerful sonic waves that a brass gong can produce, and from the belief that the Yoruba river deity Oshun can be summoned by a brass bell. This blend of information caused Dunja to start making brass instruments and take a first step into the sonic world in her practice.
Over the summer in 2021 Dunja produced work for an exhibition at Salts in Basel titled “Power to the Commons”. The work she produced arose from direct contact and engagement with the living materials and elements of the garden and river on site. She produced sculptures of bees wax and drift wood, that she subsequently cast into brass instruments in Benin-city, Nigeria. The presentation also included an Orgalitho (stone organ) performance by Beat Weyeneth, a Swiss musician and instrument builder. Dunja is intrigued by the effect of sound waves on water molecules, and by extension on human beings.
During her residency Dunja intends to explore these sonic directions further, and is interested in connecting with local musicians, instrument builders, and sound engineers as well as dancers and performers to develop a possible collaboration. A small stream running behind her studio at Victoria Yards promises exiting potential to also develop further work in collaboration with water.
Dunja Herzog (born 1976 in Basel, studied art in Basel and Glasgow) lived in Cameroon for two years as a child and has been working regularly as an artist in West Africa for almost twenty years. In her art, Herzog creates spaces in which we as visitors can approach global economic cycles through the individual memory of natural materials, which the artist relates to the common history of Europe and Africa, and always to herself. Usually, there is a healing process at the center of her work.