Through the use of sculptural installation Zach Taljaard dissects his Afrikaner male identity hoping to throw new light on its construction. The artists work follows an autobiographical path, chronologically tracing his day to day dealings with identity, from childhood expectations and disillusionment through to the inevitable process of becoming a man and the social molding it entails. In the installation entitled ‘Dutchman’ the artist investigates labeling through cultural inheritance and also dissects the hereditary qualities of the quilt and responsibilities that comes with it. Being born to an Afrikaner father and Dutch mother the artist looks at the word Dutchman as derogative as well as culturally descriptive. By being stereotypically labeled one automatically finds oneself not only wrongfully defined and classified but also without question accepting blame for past wrongs. This projected association with historic events culminates in a complete rejection of ones own culture resulting in a disassociation from place, body and community.
With reference to Afrikaans cultural inheritance, specifically the work of Anton van Wouw, the artists creates and installation which revisits patriotic ideals but embody the loss of identity and also the loss of culture. This estrangement from culture and the artist’s estrangement from the self culminate in his reworking of van Wouw’s “Boerenoointjie” Using himself as model the artist challenges societal expectations around gender and the roles we willingly inherit. The artist not only questions his identity in crisis but mirrors the construction and loss thereof in others. His sculptures are evidence of his mastery of sculptural techniques and its materials which he skillfully combines to bring out tactile and conceptual strengths, luring the viewer in with fine craftsmanship to convey a message which challenges our norms and indirectly our comfort zones.