Chat with Artist Dan Halter

06 August 2010 - 02:50 By Andrea Nagel

Zimbabwean-born, Cape Town-based artist Dan Halter is in Scotland for three months creating art for the Artists in Residence (AiR) programme. The programme was established in 2002 by Peter Gordon, the great great grandson of William Grant, founder of Glenfiddich, to "foster creativity and experimentation in others".

Each year eight artists from around the globe live in distillery cottages in Dufftown, in the Scottish Highlands, where they work inspired by the surroundings and community.

We spoke to Halter, a 2001 graduate from UCT's Michaelis School of Fine Art, about his work shortly before he left to take up his residency.

"I find that I'm constantly concerned with the complex relationship between South Africa and Zimbabwe. I crossed the border with my family numerous times and it always had a great impact on me. This context always filters into my work."

Halter's first solo exhibition, Take Me to Your Leader, held at the João Ferreira gallery in Cape Town in 2006, was met with critical acclaim. Since then he has exhibited in Milan, Berlin, at the Iziko SA National Gallery and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

"I spent an amazing two months in Zurich and another two months in Brazil interrogating themes of displacement and the idea of borders, physical and metaphorical, between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

"I collaborated with Adam Davies on an exhibition at the Goethe Institute's new project space, GoetheonMain in downtown Johannesburg in May called Shifting The Goal Posts. We literally took goalposts from a field in South Africa (Mesina) and exchanged them in Beitbridge Zimbabwe, politicising the playing fields, so to speak."

What does he have planned for his residency in Scotland?

"I'm going with an open mind. My work always tends to be a development of themes and ideas I've had before." Whatever he produces during his residency, there's no doubt that there will be clever political comment inherent in it.