Nicola Rooos graduated at the top of her class from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in May 2017.
She achieved 95% for her final-year body of work, DIS(re)MEMBERINGS.
She was also the recipient of the annually-awarded Michaelis Prize.
Since discovering the medium in early 2015, I have primarily been working in life-size figurative sculptural installations constructed out of recycled rubber tyre tubing. I investigate 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 my 2015 debut installation at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, No Man’s Land, was the only dark-skinned Samurai ever written into recorded history: a man of African descent, known only by the name of Yasuke (pronounced yas-keh), who was taken from his homeland and came to serve under an influential daimyō (feudal lord) in late 16th century Japan. His legacy of cross-cultural exchange shifted the focus to a new world state of ethnographic modernity and the transient fixity of culture and tradition. My interest in colonial history and the 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.