Adele van Heerden is an artist and curator working in direct response to historical objects that define her current social and political reality. Her practice confronts the past by interrogating its visual cultural legacy and encouraging a new engagement with inherited ideologies. She gently deconstructs the symbolism of masculine and nationalist identities in objects such as toy soldiers and public monuments by re-imaging them layered within bouquets of flowers.
Van Heerden works in multi-layered ink drawings and gouache on drafting film. In the final compositions the tactile layering of images challenges a viewer’s visual surety. This reflects van Heerden’s interest in deconstructing historical ideologies. The domestic and memorial symbolism of flowers reflects back on the function of historical objects as sites of memory. Van Heerden’s juxtaposition of the traditionally feminine and personal act of laying flowers at the graveside with the traditionally masculine and nationalistic construction (or in recent cases destruction) of political bronze public statues encourages a dialogue between personal and political approaches to memory. Each work functions as a complex socio-political memento mori, reflecting on a contemporary reality crafted by the past.