Carmen Ford (b. 1987) is a printmaker, graphic artist and designer. She works in the small, history-seeped town of Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape. Port Alfred is situated in a region that saw many of South Africa’s most bloody and brutal military battles. Ford’s work reflects and questions this military legacy, whilst being cunningly playful and evocative.
Her most recent work draws from her family archive: a collection of her grandfather’s super-8 footage, featuring the power apparatus of the apartheid state. Ford used the looped images of powerful flying machines and politicians descending and ascending as inspiration for her quirky drawings and prints. The helicopter and other military aircraft are a central motif in her work. She describes these machines as ‘metaphors for political systems of power’.
Power, as it is both executed and resisted, is central to Ford’s practice. She is inspired by the ‘design elements and graphic language’ of printmaking, which she views ‘an archetypal medium for socio-political commentary… holding a significant place in the history of our country”. The mannerisms of Ford’s work are deeply influenced by South African protest posters and Soviet propaganda material. Ultimately, she is concerned and amused by the ‘bizarreness of leadership’.
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Carmen Ford studied Fine Art at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she completed her Masters degree in 2013. She is also a qualified and practising graphic designer, with a qualification from the University of Cape Town. Ford’s work has been featured in a number of local art fairs, including Turbine Art Fair, FNB Joburg Art Fair and the Joburg Fringe. In 2016, she was a finalist in the David Koloane Award Mentorship Programme, in association with LL Editions and the Bag Factory.