Hannelie Coetzee sees herself as an ecological artist that studies the effects of man-made systems on the natural environment. “We need to re-learn the logic of nature in order to continue mindfully,” says Coetzee. She aims to go further by finding possible solutions through interacting with affected individuals, building a network useful to the issue at hand, and shedding some light on the problem by creating art. With the ongoing Watermense/Water people project, the artist focused on the use and abuse of, and distribution of water. For this body of work, the artist walks along the natural streams crisscrossing throughout Johannesburg. In the process she interacts with the individuals and communities who are there in one way or another. She listens to their stories and photographs them and their surroundings. These images find form through engravings of portraits on discarded doors, stencils on found-maps, woodblocks (and prints) made from old scaffolding planks, amongst other mediums. Through recycling discarded doors from regenerated buildings in Johannesburg, Coetzee aims to urge viewers to rethink how mankind will live with limited natural resources well into the future. She sees even contaminated water as a resource which can be purified. Coetzee’s artworks become a vehicle outside and inside the gallery to expand this conversation around the de-romanticization of the urbanlandscape.
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