The Mute World - August 2014

Artist - Jana Hawkins-Andersen

Author - Ansie van der Walt


A small windowless white box - the space feels confined and too small. Uncomfortable. Looking at the objects on display I get the idea that they feel the same way. They are small, almost inconsequential and have an air of being apologetic. It is an apt feeling for something that portrays the idea of being unnecessary and useless.

Standing inside the exhibition space I try to stay as close to the wall as possible, too scared that I might break one of the precariously placed objects. They look fragile and unbalanced, like they might topple or fall over at any time.

On the wall opposite the door is a big poster of two unlabeled artefacts. A small box and a candelabrum.

It looks like something from a museum - obviously valuable and worthy. Beautiful. In contrast, the items in the room look, well, inferior. Small, odd shaped, unrefined, and undefined. Things. They are placed haphazardly about the room - perched on a plinth, leaning against the wall or lying on the floor. The colours are at odds with the shape and material. Muted colours - pink, baby blue, grey and pale white. Made from porcelain. Or is it ceramic? Or clay? I'm not really sure, but does it matter?

Without the poster, lending perspective and contrast, I would have missed the meaning of the exhibition. But by juxtaposing perceived value and beauty to non- value and non-beauty, Jana's message becomes clear. Why do we revere beauty? Why do we add value to aesthetics? And why does the absence of these things make us feel ill at ease?

Later, thinking about the exhibition, I find it ironic that the poster, which in itself is cheap and of little value, represents value, while the porcelain, which is usually considered a valuable material, represents uselessness and un-beauty.

The Mute World is thought provoking albeit uncomfortable. Jana succeeds in saying a lot while staying mute.


Ansie is a freelance writer and blogger, specializing in finding the story behind textile and fiber art.
She loves travel, architecture and good design.
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