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Friday, 26 February 2021

Monsters at the Cape of Good Hope on exhibit

EXHIBITION: Monsters at the Cape of Good Hope launches on March 4. EXHIBITION: Monsters at the Cape of Good Hope launches on March 4.

Postdoctoral fellow and artist Dr Anja Venter will launch her exhibition titled: Monsters at the Cape of Good Hope on March 4.

The exhibit will be peer reviewed and submitted as a subsidy-bearing creative output to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

“This is only the second such output that our faculty (Informatics and Design) will produce, and we are very excited about that”, says Associate Professor Izak van Zyl from the Department of Applied Design.

The exhibition will launch simultaneously at Artist Admin at 79 Roeland Street in Cape Town and online at

Venter has been collecting old prints of colonial artworks for years and paints surreal monsters into them.

“I'm a big fan of Kaiju (Japanese giant monster media) and I really enjoyed envisioning a past where the project of colonialism was thwarted by some dormant supernatural creatures,” she explains.

“When I was offered a post-doctoral fellowship, one of the first things my mentor, Prof Izak van Zyl, mentioned, was that I could do a creative output for DHET credits, and I immediately started working on expanding the concept into something a bit more substantial. The process involved working very closely with the Iziko archivists to find public domain images of colonial era Cape Town, researching what kind of local monsters we had in Cape Town, and experimenting with materials.”

Venter says monsters are near universal cultural phenomena adding that media theorists have argued that the conjuring of monsters “is often a metaphor for our own monstrousness: they force us to confront what we perceive as being natural; as being human”.

“Since the onset of Western colonialism, writers, artists, and explorers reported on encounters with ‘monsters’, whether sea creatures, mermaids, cannibals, troglodytes, fanged demons or simply foreign races. These lurid tales confounded any efforts of acknowledging humanity in the Other. In no place was this truer than in the project of colonising Africa.

“With Monsters at the Cape of Good Hope, I wanted to take historical images and challenge the viewer to look at them anew: I placed ancient Southern African monsters as lead characters into these mixed media paintings: Grootslang, |Kaggen, Impundulu, Inkanyamba and Dingonek. The work is about invasion, ownership, displacement, the destructive forces of ‘progress’ and the monstrosity of our imperial past.”

 Venter, who studied graphic design, has always viewed herself as more of a visual communicator than an artist.

“But as the years have passed, I've dabbled in all sorts of visual outputs: from commercial work, to comics, to video games, animation, graphic design, fashion design, branding and fine arts. I've done work for the likes of Apple music, Nike, Mr Price and Nedbank, and post most of my creations onto instagram (@nannaventer) or my website ( My style is predominantly inspired by comics and pop art - it's punk and feminist and defiant.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.