Ian van Coller

Ian van Coller is a white South African who grew up during apartheid.  His early work relates to this childhood experience as well as the guilt associated with this and a greater colonial legacy.  Several bodies of work, including Memory Boards (above), Natural History, and Mali Monuments (shown below) underline the difference between the colonial and the "true African" perspectives and address duality of place, vantage, and history.  

Van Coller often hybridizes his images, using collage, digital collage, and bookmaking to realize his works.  His artists books are his most celebrated and collected pieces, and a form he often uses to convey his artistic vision.  For van Coller, the works feel most potent in their entirety as a book, but he always makes images available as loose prints.

More recently, van Coller has executed work with a greater sense of global stewardship and consideration of time.  He has focused on climate change, specifically glacial melting and the symbolism of deep time they represent.  Human experience of rapid glacier melting should inspire awe if not alarm, as glaciers represent eons.  Van Coller is currently collaborating with research scientists funded by NSF and NOAA who are studying Tropical Glaciers.  A selection of work from his Kilimanjaro: The Last Glacier follow.

Kilimanjaro : The Last Glacier

Naturalists of the Long Now

Images below are from a new and ongoing series, Naturalists of the Long Now, where the artist collaborates with scientists:  they annotate van Coller's images of their subject-sites.  The project merges art and science, and is a nod to the victorian era where science and art were more closely allied.  Though factual and descriptive, the scientists' scripts become decorative and integral components to the work.  Together scientist and artist employ visual and written language to create unique prints that encourage reflection on the way humans are impacting global normalcy and causing climate change.  The title, Naturalists of the Long Now references the idea of deep time, encourages us to think bigger than human lifetimes or even centuries, but rather as something more infinite.  The Long Now is a project to build a 10,000 year clock in western Texas. 

Van Coller teaches at Montana State University.  His work is in such notable public collections as the Birmingham Museum of Art; Durban Art Gallery, South Africa; Getty, Los Angeles; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; New York Public Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography Library, Tokyo; among others.

Artist's Books 

Learn more & preview books on van Coller's website.

More Artist YOU May Like: