Transcultural Transformation: The Object as Hermeneutic Text
Twentieth century hermeneutic philosopher Martin Heidegger posited the question What is a thing? For Heidegger the question of the ‘being of things’ is interwoven with the question of being in relation to the ‘other’. Hermeneutic inquiry in the Heideggerian sense entails being itself as an act of interpretation, exploration, bringing to light. In this paper I wish to hermeneutically contextualize the sculptural work of two artists, (one of whom is currently residing in South Africa, and the other a South African in exile) – specifically in terms of the notion of the ‘between’. The sculptural works of Jan van der Merwe and Francois du Plessis, made of transformed, found objects, act as metaphors for transformation, texts which address the notion of the between and the other. In the concept of the between significance is vested neither in the ‘I’ nor in the ‘other’, nor in a possible ‘third’ which stands in relation to the ‘I’ or the ‘other’. Significance is vested precisely in the between, which is expressly not defined as ‘union’, but as nothingness, a gap, which becomes ‘a place of revelation’. The artwork, itself consisting of transformed materials, acts as a hermeneutic interpretation or transformation of the ‘other’.
Keywords: Hermeneutics, Heidegger, Other, Between, Jan van Der Merwe, Francois Du Plessis
Full time lecturer, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Tshwane University of Technology