Weave and warp in Dan Halter’s art

Dan Halter is an African artist, born in 1977 in Zimbabwe to Swiss parents, now residing and active in Cape Town, South Africa. After his graduation at the University of Cape Town in 2001, Halter has displayed his works in numerous exhibitions, both collective and personal, in various South African and European galleries. He has also participated in various international expositions like VideoBrasil in São Paulo, the Art Biennial in Havana, and the Dakar Biennial. 

Among the most recent exhibitions are present also come Italian events: the show “L’Europa non cade dal cielo, riflessioni attraverso l’arte contemporanea”, organized by Fondazione Imago Mundi and held in different locations in Treviso city centre, has faced topics of borders, identity and sense of belonging; the anthological “Look to Windward”, closed last March by and organized by the Fondazione Filiberto and Bianca Menna in Rome; a solo-exhibition at Osart Gallery stand (his Italian representative gallery) during the last Miart edition in April 2023.

Dan Halter, Machiavelli, 2021. Exhibited during “L’Europa non cade dal cielo, riflessioni attraverso l’arte contemporanea”, by Fondazione Imago Mundi in 2022.
Courtesy Osart Gallery

The basis of Halter’s production are material and artisan/artistic techniques, declined to face political and social topics. The favourite artist’s raw material is the economic plastic bag produced in China, a cheap and poor object symbolizing migrants and their baggage. From this material, new fabrics are created using braiding techniques. Texts and images become visible through the surface, where weave and warp overlap to reveal and hide words and meanings. 

Paper shreds, phone books, plastic bags, banknotes and their blow-ups, words, written texts and ciphered messages: all of these are the substance and product of Halter’s work, which mirror the present and past reality and dark humour that distinguish today’s Meridional Africa. 

Dan Halter, Out of Zimbabwe 2, 2021, detail.
Courtesy Dan Halter

Central in the entire narration of the artist is the topic of migration, the dislocated national identity, and the post-colonial African world. With a mix of artistic and artisan work, Halter describes history from a contemporary point of view, facing the heavy globalization and deep fractures of today’s society, recalling popular visual thematics. This pair of manual skill and conceptualization hides and reveals through the physical twist of the work of art, recalling the social plot composition, with its contradictions and iconologies.