Liminality, absence and silence in the installation art of Jan van der Merwe

  • Runette Kruger
  • Jan van der Merwe
Keywords: South African art, Jan van der Merwe, Liminality, Transience, Time and being, Absence


In this article, I interpret specific examples of the installation art of South African artist Jan van der Merwe in terms of notions regarding liminality, focusing on the concepts of absence and silence, or the “nothingness” inherent in space and time, and in language. I argue that in the works chosen for analysis, Van der Merwe foregrounds liminal space and time as productive of nothingness. This conception of liminality (relating to its inherent nothingness) is explored in terms of Martin Heidegger’s (1962; 2006) thoughts on the spatial aspect of time.