The Abyssal Zone
Visual Art / Gallery in the Round

The Abyssal Zone is dark, silent and secret, inhabited by uncanny, luminous creatures which float above shifting sands. The sea floor gleams with gold, platinum, titanium, copper, cobalt, and manganese, minerals that are critical for batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.  


In the 17th century, European ships floated across the ocean, enticed by lands of gold and the promise of fortunes. Stars guided the ships; elusive planets lit the dark surfaces.


If a ship had sunk, it might have come to rest on a seabed that held the very minerals for which it searched. This shadowy place is now threatened with the judder of collectors, the throbbing of tracked mining vehicles and pulsing bottom crawlers that spew toxic sediment plumes. Even the most remote, seemingly inaccessible parts of the planet are degraded, their environments desecrated, their life forms lost.


In the disrupted order depicted in this work, place and space are inverted. Fish, now inedible, swim alongside spacecraft. Our dreams are haunted by reverberations from the Abyss, perverse echoes of sky and sea, water and air, sustenance, and poison.


Book to attend a hosted walkabout session with Christine Dixie.

Artist Biography

Christine Dixie is a Senior Lecturer in the Fine Art Department at Rhodes University. She is known for haunting imagery relating to the construction of masculine and feminine roles, exposing how they have been cultivated via myths and image-making. The colonial history that haunts the town of Makhanda, where she lives and works has compelled her preoccupation with Europe’s legacy in Africa.


Dixie has a proclivity for printmaking, but she often works at incorporating her print works with tactile qualities, through embossing, embroidery or other forms of presentation that deny a flat surface. Her interest in printmaking relates to her preoccupation with texts, particularly those relating to artworks and manifests in her ‘book’ works, and her drive to blur the boundaries between text and images. 


Typically, Dixie’s print series are part of a body of work that also finds expression through films or elaborate installations. In this way her art is not limited to a specific medium, and as with films has a narrative quality to it, presenting a developing story, which advances with each image, further blurring the boundaries between the present and the past.


Her most recent exhibition, The Binding Project opened in April this Year at 54 The Valley Rd., Johannesburg. Her work is included in national and international collections including The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Iwalewahaus Museum, The Standard Bank Gallery, The Johannesburg Art Gallery, The Iziko National Gallery and the University of Johannesburg Gallery.


For more on her exhibitions and projects


Credits for The Abyssal Plains video:

Melissa Parry - editor

Samantha Munro - animation

Corinne Cooper - sound installation


This project is part of Ecological Community Engagements: Imagining Sustainability and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Urban South African Environments (PIs: L.Manderson, University of the Witwatersrand, and E.M.Moyer, University of Amsterdam), funded by the National Research Foundation, South Africa, and the Dutch Research Council, the Netherlands.


  • Daily entry to the exhibitions is free. The scheduled walkabouts have a minimal cost and booking is essential.
  • June 23, 2024
  • June 29, 2024