Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Ragtag" - a 6 x 3 m Handmade Paper Collage

Work title:                     ragtag

Date of production:        2002-2009

                                      Media:                    handmade papers, plant fragments,     
monoprints, textiles, embroidery 

Dimensions (h x w):       300 x 600 cm



General Concept:

Ziegler’s work is created by using the process of papermaking from plant off-cuts or cotton rags. The pulp forms the basis for a process of layering. This is done with inlays applied on the wet paper. In a further process after the drying, some of these papers then become the support for monoprints, embroidery and further collage. 

Artist’s statement: ‘ragtag’

“ragtag”  consists of 82 handmade paper artworks, with dates ranging from 2002 till 2009. This work represents a stage of completion after a 7 year cycle as a papermaking artist. What is the connection between environment and meditation? The one happens in the outside, the other inside.  How do the two feature in the work?  Meditation is a state of non-thought. It is an Eastern discovery, an Eastern contribution, whereas the West has contributed science and as a result, technology.


My investigation

The great benefits of science and technology are overshadowed by an irresponsible attitude of greed which destroys our environment. This ignorance of our reality (being part of nature, embedded and nourished by the environment, and a part of the whole), triggered my curiosity into the reasons for such irrational behaviour and started my investigation.


I found out, that our brain has developed in such a way that it can easily be manipulated by feeding it with readymade ideas. It is capable of creating its own ‘reality’, rationalizing the most absurd concepts.

Meditation is the approach to achieve a glimpse / view of the world without the interference of the mind and its constant production of thoughts. It means nothing other than ‘being in the moment’ and the experience is that of timelessness and deep oneness with existence.


In meditation I experience the presence of plants as 'enlightened beings' of breathtaking beauty, life giving utility and an essential part in our ecosystem. But in our mind they exist as Diaspora while we indulge in an illusion of megalomania.


Being my own guinea pig, I observe this dichotomy within myself and try to approach and express my findings through my art.


I let the plants 'speak for themselves' by using them directly as inlays or printing from the plant itself. But the plant fragment (not the plant) dies in the process, providing evidence of our exploitative attitude.


‘Ragtag’ leaves a lot of ‘space’ – ‘empty’ pieces of paper, representing the no-mind or ‘objective art’, whilst the ‘subjective’ components are those related to memory and artefacts: the red recycled gown paper, the meditation dress, the doilies, and the fabric off-cuts. Looking at how ‘ragtag’ is stitched together I see the enigma of the self: an identity that is more than the sum total of the parts.

Short Biography:

Nirmi Ziegler received her Masters in art history and comparative literature in 2002 from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. She is currently doing her PhD in e-learning at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town. Ziegler has participated in group exhibitions nationally and has had solo shows at aSd in Durban and aSb in Berlin. Her work is included in corporate, public and private collections. Ziegler lectures Art Theory at the Fine Art Department of the Durban University of Technology.