Collaboration: DOE+KAP

DOE+KAP is a cross­cultural effort undertaken by Deborah Doering's DOEprojekts and a group of South African visual artists, KAP (Keiskamma Art Project).

Doering's interest in South Africa began in 2007, while she was creating the "Myths of My Ancestors" series. Her "core language of form" ("Coreforms"), which is part of that series, incorporates ideas about genetic codes, and her research pointed to genetic evidence that the ancestors of modern Europeans (her own ancestors) came from South Africa. So the urge to visit the place of origin was born.

Doering was further motivated after seeing a traveling exhibition of work by KAP artists from the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The exhibition featured a major multi­media work based on Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, reinterpreted in light of regional Xhosa history. She contacted the artists about the possibility of collaborating, and they invited her to visit them.

Doering raised funds to make the journey, and arrived in Hamburg, South Africa, in September 2010. During her stay there, she presented her work to the artists and discussed her Coreforms, which has formal affinities with KAP's own work. The group was enthusiastic about her art, and together they produced a working plan for a joint project.

DOE+KAP's first products are two tapestries and a series ("Night Sky Constellations") of painted­on prints. These prints creatively combine Doering's Coreforms with the group's own repertoire of symbols and are a response to an installation she brought to Hamburg. The collaboration is ongoing, with a large, co­created installation as the ultimate goal.

The success of this project speaks to the intellectual/emotional rigor, and also flexibility, of Coreforms. It was consciously developed as an expressive language grounded in the most basic elements of human reality, and its ability to work across cultures attests to its creative potential. The philosophical underpinnings of Doering's work, embracing duality and seeing art as mediator between opposites, also lend support to this collaboration. International creative co­productions are at the forefront of contemporary artistic practice. And collaborations like Doering's, between conceptually sophisticated practitioners from disparate cultures, offer maximum potential for artistic innovation.

DOE+KAP is becoming part of today's global avant­garde.

Zoe Spirra
Zoe Spirra is an artist working in Chicago. She has a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and a Fine Arts Degree from Columbia College Chicago. Zoe is also an adjunct faculty member of the Humanities Department at the Illinois Institute of Technology.