Jane Alexander: Portrait of a Man with Landscape and Procession (1995)
Jane Alexander created this photomontage by combining two of her previous works on a vast, desolate landscape, lined with electric (electric pile ons). In the extreme foreground is a photograph she took of a photorealist painting she did of the Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko when she was younger. In the background is part of a sculpture she did in 1994 called something's going down. The black woman who usually leads this group is not part of this photomontage. Instead, Biko is their leader, being an icon for black people throughout South Africa before his death in 1977, and a martyr. The people in the procession appear to be moving towards something, as if they are on their way to see something. However, they might not know where they are going, heading blindly into a vast, empty landscape. On the other hand, even though it may appear as though they don't know where they're going, a network led by underground leaders such as Biko could have informed them about something. The phone lines perhaps suggest the frequent bugging and tapping of telephones by the police during the Apartheid regime. Many artists even had their phone calls monitored, not to mention political activists. This work could be placed in the late 70s (around Biko's death) or the 80s, when police invasion of privacy was common.