November 25, 2015

Rose Marie Prins: Homeland, Lost and Found

It begins with a drone and tambora underlaid with Middle Eastern and jazz rhythms that lure you through a mysterious white curtain.

In the darkened space beyond, Rose Marie Prins, South African born artist, envelops the viewer in her vision of exile and the wounds of war.  In the center Prins’ assemblage sculpture rises on concrete blocks from a white circle of sand and stones, a shrine of rusted and twisted, jagged forms that evoke the aftermath of disaster.

Above it dangle broken bits of metal refuse whose iconic shapes cast shadows in the moving search light that introduces an accompanying video.  Phrases rush by “a cry to ease your pain,” and the enclosure becomes a ritual space removed from the outer world.

Rose Marie Prins conceived and directed the collaboration, Homeland, Lost and Found by fusing her mixed media construction, video images and desert painted space with the words of the poet, Salah Al-Hamdani, the haunting music of Rick Neal of element-tao, Jim Sennott’s videography and Charlene McCarthy’s calligraphy.


The grand themes of justice and death in the Middle Eastern wars permeate and connect each element of this installation to advance an atmosphere of reflection and lament. The complicated, elegiac musical harmonies highlight the contradictions.

References to a world enveloped by chaos suffuse the hand lettered excerpts from Al Hamadi’s Baghdad My Beloved.  “You needn’t crucify yourself…no wound can justify war,” appears in McCarthy’s flowing arabesques that suggest Koranic script.  They become glowing blue epitaphs across the search lights, flaming flashes and deep black ground of the video. They are tacked to white wall pieces that reference ancient manuscripts. Gentle alliterations describe fierce loss and sacrifice just as the fragility of the paper calligraphy is a foil to the reality of stone and blasted metal.

Homeland background

The space is enclosed by red clay-colored walls that end before the ceiling in a desert horizon. Pitched cliff angles and curved valleys on the rim appear again in the shadows beneath the calligraphies and the edges of the video’s flames.

Black, white and red flicker over everything and the the music rises. The searching spotlight becomes a light-filled mandala and the poetry becomes a prayer that fades into silence.


“Oh! Mother! Let me return to your flesh

so I might listen to the beating of your soul

and drink in the murmur of your breath.”

No one who is paying attention can pass through this installation unchanged. This is how art really works.

– Lynn Carol Henderson Ph.D.