Celebrating Eastern Cape Artists

August 04, 2021 - October 11, 2021

Made from prints on rice paper which has been covered in latex, the elements constituting The Interior (with fish) are positioned in such a way that they accord with a map of Africa by G. Blaeu that was included in the Grooten Atlas (1648–1665). Dixie’s choice of a map by Blaeu is significant. Maps such as the one Dixie quotes here speak of an imperative to harness new topographical knowledge for the successful establishment of the commercial interests of the Dutch East India Company. Signifying the end of the speculative geography that had been a feature of the sixteenth century, the seventeenth-century map ‘laid claims to its presence as a studiedly transparent image of an increasingly known world’ (Brotton 1997, 186). Dixie has, however, collapsed her reference to Blaeu with a second discourse – one that involves another kind of mapping. Presented as a substitute for the African continent, but adapted to accord with its contours, a medical diagram forms the central motif of The Interior. But this is no general map of the body, and instead one of an especially mysterious physiognomic terrain – female reproductive organs. The geographies of dark Africa and female reproductive anatomy have thus both, as it were, been charted and supposedly fixed through geographical and medical inquiry: as Dixie’s juxtaposition of these two discourses makes clear, to a masculine scientific imagination it seemed that the equally troublesome uncertainties signified by both of these ‘others’ – foreign topography and woman – might be overcome by their being methodically diagrammed.