Art is not a Mirror.
Art is a translation of that which you do not know.
Marlene Dumas 2003
Dumas’s interest in the complexities of representation is potently expressed in the multi-part work Rejects 1994–2014. This series of ink and graphite ‘portrait heads’ pinned directly to the wall began with images Dumas had discarded from another work. This starting point reminded the artist of so-called ‘reject stores’ in South Africa that sold clothes with imperfections. By bringing these ‘rejects’ together, Dumas made the artistic process of selection and judgement visible, perhaps implying a parallel with the ways in which society accepts some and excludes others.
Rejects are not pictures of injured bodies… although the
rough and careless handling they have taken gives them
an ‘abused’ touch. They are about my conflicting attitudes
towards drawings. I do have a tendency to want to destroy
what I’ve made. This comes more naturally than adhering
to a consciously controlled system.
I am forever torn between wanting a clear simple form that
aspires to stand up forever and a reasonless disappearance
into formlessness. Rejects enjoy the irresponsible freedom
to constantly change one’s mind.
Marlene Dumas One Hundred Models and Endless Rejects 2000