Merit Q&A - Monica Klopper | Sasol New Signatures Merit Q&A - Monica Klopper

Merit Q&A - Monica Klopper

Congratulations on being announced as one of the 7 winners in the Sasol New Signatures Competition 2021.



Congratulations on being announced as one of the 7 winners in the Sasol New Signatures Competition 2021. Tell us what your reaction was when you received the news.

When I received the call it took me a moment to realize what was happening, I did not expect the call at all. I was in disbelieved; I think a part of me still is. After the call I just took a moment to relax and to let it sink in. My parents were in the era, and I just had to let them know in person. After seeing their reaction, I realised that this was actually happening to me.

Is this the first time you have entered the competition?

Yes, this is.

Tell us a little about your artistic journey up until the point of entering Sasol New Signatures 2021?  

As a young artist my journey is fairly new, I remember being in primary school and always being active in any sort of art activity. In high school not much attention was given to art, other than having it as a subject, so my parents decided to put me in an after-school art class. This is where my basic knowledge of art started. In afternoon class I would paint animals as my love for wildlife grew. In university my view on art was expanded which let me to develop my own signature in my practice which of course resulted in me working with animal matter. I am constantly exposed to new artist and mediums, the goal I set for myself is to create my own unique style of working with my found animal matter in a new and unconventional way.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career as an artist to date? 

If I am being honest, my biggest influence has always been nature itself. Growing up in an environment where I can interact with nature on the daily, I found comfort and stability. Over time I grow fascinated by its diverse wildlife, differing in texture, colour shape and size. This formed my pallet in my art practice when exploring the materiality of all around me.

Tell us a little about why you created the piece you submitted? 

I have a large collection of animal matter in my possession that I found over the years. When I got the opportunity to use it in my university work, if it fit the overall concept given, I usually go to what I want to explore more in that area. In this case snakeskin. I knew I wanted to make a baptism dress for a while now, the material made me think of soft, fragile lace. This resulted in  a challenge firstly working with a material so fragile and then the showcase of my thoughts very personal to my beliefs. My Father is a Priest in my church and the fact that the snake dress goes against my church and what they stand for, was something to keep in mind when telling them about my work. This in my household was and still is a sensitive topic we do not discuss in great length.

How have you navigated the past 18 months of this pandemic?  Has it affected the way you work or the messaging in your work?

Last year the university was almost expecting us to work with the theme of the pandemic, which I did not agree with. But the pandemic did have a positive effect on me, I was isolating in my element, nature. I found new materials to work with that led to new ideas for future artworks. The real struggle was coming back to the city, but I saw it as an opportunity to show animal matter to people that had not seen this material used in art before. Bringing a bit of home with me.

Tell us about your preferred medium/s ...and why?

My preferred medium is animal matter. I am fascinated by animals, how diverse they are in species, colour, shape, size and texture. My medium explores the ways in which we see these materials, revealing new perspectives on their materiality. I love to research and experiment with the matter as this satisfy my need to broaden my knowledge on animal anatomy and development.

I believe I can explore this medium in so many different ways through, culture, traditions and personal believes around the world, differing from animal to animal. This just being the tip of the ice burg.

When people view your work – what reaction/response are you hoping to create?

My intension was to make an artwork that reflects my view on religion and how it affected my life through the material, but after seeing some reactions from viewers, I saw that they were more mesmerised by the material and how it is used. I hope that people can see that there is still beauty in change.

Why do you think your work was chosen as a top 7?

I am still in some disbelieve that I am chosen as the top 7, but If I had to think of a reason why, there is just no straight answer. Before I decided to enter, I read the entry form and what the competition main goal is, they were providing a space for artist with new innovation, new ways of working with material and like the name said a new signature. After that I knew what artwork I was destined to enter.

And if you are chosen as the overall winner?  How would you feel? Have you already got an idea or vison for your solo exhibition?

To think that there is a chance that I could win, having the opportunities to expand my art practise, that could literally change my life as an artist, is something I could only dream of. It would solidify my career as an artist and future. If that were to happen, I would properly be overwhelmed with emotions, but I would be grateful, definitely grateful.

For a solo exhibition I want to work with the four biblical stages of a person in a church. I have the baptism dress, the first stage, the second stage is when a person is baptising again to become a member in the church, I will then make a replica of my own dress I wore when becoming a member in my church. The third stage is where a person gets married, a wedding dress. And for the final stage it is death, which will be a pall. The artwork together will be a baptism dress, a dress when becoming a member, a wedding dress, and a pall all made out of shed snakeskin.

What are you currently working on? What is next for you as an artist?  

At this moment I am working on my university work, I am preparing to do my exam. For my exam I am going to work with animal intestines, the ones used to make droëwors, and trying to make balloon animals out of the intestines. I am also planning to have helium inserted into the work to have it floating like a real balloon, but it would be floating meat. This is mainly how I do my art; I focus on the material and what it represents while experimenting to come up with new possibilities to work with unconventional materials.                          

Which South African artists do you admire and why?  

Nic Sithole, a ceramic artist. In my first year I had the opportunity to interview Nic Sithole in person. I had done research on him and his artwork and prepared questions for him. With every answer he gave he added a story to it. He mentioned that his work is resolved around a story on his experience growing up. He told me the story when he sold his first ceramic work and was surprised that people wanted to buy his artwork. At that moment he was working form his garage but was happier then ever. What surprised me was the fact that he was a down to earth person that most people can relate to. He was not in the business to make money but to share his art and stories.

To me I found him quite inspirational as an artist, he uses this one material, mastering one material and create a new story that differs form one another. He’s use of material is an art form by itself. After the interview I asked him if he had any advice to an artist looking to make it in the industry, he replied by saying that one should just continue doing what they love, passion is required. Things will get hard but that is life, and good things don’t come essay. He spoke of his realistic view on life. That’s when I made the mental lift that I should not make art to get money in order to live a comfortable life, but that I should make art because I have a passion for it and I do, I have a passion for my animal matter.