Marguerite Roux was born in 1991 in the Karoo town of Beaufort West. She grew up in Wellington in the Cape Winelands and matriculated from La Rochelle Girls’ High School in Paarl.
In 2018 Roux obtained her MA Visual Arts degree from the University of Stellenbosch, prior to which she completed a BAVA (Fine Arts) degree from the same institution in 2014. In 2014 Roux was awarded the Keith Dietrich Award for students who pass their final year with a distinction as well as the Timo Smuts prize for the top academic achiever in Fine Arts. Marguerite Roux is a three-time top 100 finalist in the Sasol New Signatures Award competition.
Since graduating in 2014 Roux has taken part in a number of group exhibitions, including Greatest Hits: The Domestic Odyssey presented by the AVA Gallery in 2015 and Hinterlands: The Keith Dietrich Award Exhibition at GUS in the same year. Most notably Roux’s work has been shown at the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, in Turkey as part of Emelie Röndahl‘s project Google Weaving Stop-Time in 2018 and at the Affordable Art Fair in Brussels, Belgium with Absolut Art Gallery in 2019.
I spend hours cutting pages into strips and weaving them back together to communicate the value, strength and the ephemeral quality of the paper and technology. Similar to newspapers, till slips and marketing flyers, the telephone book is a widely-spread public document. I change the format, order, and code, to draw attention to the information that is so easily discarded as trivial. I gently force horizontal and vertical threads into a structure that registers my time and effort. By encapsulating the information in this document, the fragile importance of a nearly forgotten technology is savoured.
In the face of new repositories of information, the phonebook is seemingly made redundant but it maintains its relevance as a foundation for digital information directories. Although constructed by machinery there is always a certain amount of hand-craft in the process of construction; for example, the design of the machine or the typesetting of the telephone book. My work simulates this hand-craft as I attempt to elevate the human from his/her customary role as the cog in the machine. In my work I document and convey information, crafting it into a tapestry that is not as easily accessible as it had once been. My aim is to preserve and test the pages of a mostly unused book of numbers while simultaneously highlighting the quality of a delicate piece of paper.
My interest in documentation forms the foundation of my work. We are constantly exposed to snippets of information from a nearby conversation, a headline in a newspaper or the title of a newly released book, yet very often I find myself satisfied with only the snippet, not probing and enquiring to discover the full wealth of information. When I do attempt an investigation I commonly find that I do not have access to that which I am looking for. As such, the tension between shared and elusive becomes evident. I investigate the dichotomy of public and private in terms of documentation. I also consider the role that time plays in weighing the importance of a document’s content and the effect time has on a document’s physical condition. Apart from my attempt to talk about the physical fragility of non-archival paper, I also attempt to touch on the significance of the valuable information that the document contains.
In the process of crafting a coded manuscript that cannot be deciphered, it becomes apparent that the endeavour is largely futile. To create a tapestry from a telephone book exemplifies the act of changing more than it describes the act of making. In my work, nothing is added to the book and nothing is taken away. The only value that I contribute is increasing the strength of the material. Access into the cryptogram tapestry is only possible through the negotiation of the visual and the tangible record of the work. As such, the altered state of the discarded telephone book can at most be read as a document of time, effort and approximate strength.