Article: Against the picturesque: Christine Dixie's Bloodspoor

01 May 2008

Against the picturesque: Christine Dixie’s Bloodspoor (1997)

John Walters and Prof. Brenda Schmahmann

In this article which is published in the journal, de arte no 77, Walters and Schmahmann examine the installation Bloodspoor and contextualise it within the Eastern Cape landscape. This space was colonised by the British Empire during the 1800’s and was the site of intense and prolonged conflict.

“Christine Dixie’s Bloodspoor (1997), an installation comprised of two framed photographs, two chairs and nine prints, was the artist’s first sustained engagement with the politics of landscape representation. Identifying the ways in which Dixie explored the potential culpability of her 1820-settler ancestors in the violence and dispossession that took place in the Eastern Cape, the authors also reveal how Bloodspoor provides an engagement with the ways in which frontier policy has left traces of barriers, fortresses and structures of surveillance on the landscape. The article develops out of brief observations by David Bunn and Brenda Atkinson that Bloodspoor focuses on the ways in which an idea of the desirable landscape – manifested in picturesque paintings – was intricately linked to endeavours on the part of colonialists to negotiate a foreign terrain marked by conflict, trauma and violence. Through a detailed analysis of its various components, the authors suggest that Bloodspoor offers both a subversion of picturesque conventions and an exploration of the psyche of settler forebears who – for all their attempts to manage their new abode – could never quite adapt it into ‘home’.” (2008: 36)


de arte no 77 2008 ISSN 0004-3389 pp 36–51 © University of South Africa Press