Nicola Roos was born in 1994. She studied fine art at Michaelis (UCT) and graduated in 2017. She has primarily been working in life- size figurative sculptural installations constructed out of recycled rubber tyre tubing, since 2015. She has investigated the origins of civilization and society, as well as the ever-changing politics of national identity, collective memory and cultural belonging in the postcolonial world.
The point of reference for her 2015 debut installation, No Man’s Land, was the only black Samurai ever written into recorded history: a Mozambican slave, known only by the name of Yasuke, who was taken from his homeland and came to serve under an influential shogun in 16th century Japan. His legacy of cross-cultural exchange shifted the focus to this new world state of ethnographic modernity and the transient fixity of culture and tradition. Nicola’s interest in colonial history and commemoration of abstruse individuals was sparked by the little-known narrative of Yasuke and the myriad of socio-cultural implications that ripple outwards from this remarkable man in Africa and abroad. This interest has been carried over into, and developed more profoundly in, the body of work represented in this catalogue.
Nicola’s work suggests that this shifting state of culture and a resulting sense of rootlessness is so much more apparent at the dawn of what Okwui Enwezor calls post-Westernism- a possibly threatening, unstable no man’s land that we find ourselves in today. However, Nicola’s characters are no longer individuals, but rather elements of an imagined realm beyond official history. They are the embodiment of a local cultural breakdown and a communal future where beliefs, assumptions and knowledge about place and culture can be deconstructed and re-negotiated.