When Gerhard Marx started using snipped-up fragments of maps to create collages, he would join the lines you find on maps — sections of the red marks that indicate roads, for example — to draw a face, a foot, a skull, and so forth. He was also drawing with all the meanings that cling to the lines he was using: the cultural, political, scientific and historical associations and implications that they carry. He was taking a line that already meant something to us — or which we are accustomed to reading in a certain way — and forcing it to express something new: the colonial will to dominate or control the landscape, for example, or attempts to establish ownership. Or his intention was simply to make us understand the geology, orient ourselves or find shelter or identity in relation to the landscape in the new images. But they became personal, even emotional. For the mesmerising new works in his show Ecstatic Archive at the Goodman Gallery in Joburg, Marx has turned away from the lines...

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