Anna van der Ploeg is an interdisciplinary artist working in printmaking, sculpture, and painting. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.
There are a few key concepts that inform Van der Ploeg’s practice. Her work as a beekeeper permeates her figurative imagery. This pursuit developed in response to J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (1999). The artist wanted to understand the relationship of a figure of power to a micro-organism; of herself to this world within a box. The practice proved to be dense with symbolism located in diverse histories and mythologies. The hierarchies in the beehive and a hive’s ties to the keeper are synecdoche for our own social structures, allowing us to probe the experience of our proximity to one another, the discomfort we sometimes find there, and what we then choose to reveal of ourselves.
In her prints, the beekeeper has become the protagonist, a veiled figure who exists in delicate symbiosis with a swarm. As this narrative develops, she became someone familiar, who puts on a uniform, goes to work and comes home at the end of the day. She has since come to relate and interact with others, and recent works follow multiple figures in a plot where thorn, walls and stools are characters with shifting roles in scenes that play out like halting gifs on a slow bandwidth, at a frame rate too slow to make out beginning or end.