My work interrogates dominant understandings of what is being termed the “Anthropocene,” the geological epoch characterised by human impact on and alterability of the environment and the climate. The supposedly universal category of the human embedded in this term hides that we are experiencing the consequences of a Western, colonial, patriarchal, capitalist and anthropocentric genre of the human and mode of relating to the earth. Specifically, my practice articulates a story of environmental collapse and the violent industry of mining on the landscape alongside and through my own inherited history not only as a white South African, but as the granddaughter of a mining engineer. Emerging as a space to begin to connect and map out personal, national and planetary histories, my work tries to shine light on the entanglement between the environmental crisis “out there” and personal lives, specifically inherited histories of whiteness. Using photography, digital collage, drawing, animation, sound and installation, my work constellates around the concept of implication. Through an exploration of my own family archive and the movements of my grandfather across South Africa’s landscape, from mine to mine, my work collapses the imagined separations between planetary collapse and personal lives, between “the landscape” and our own movements through space, between local sites of extraction and global ecological loss, between the distance (and disassociation) often associated with climate change discourse and the intimacy of its entanglement with our histories and presents, between what is above the surface and what is below it, between what is visible and what is concealed, between past, present and future and between the comfort of ignoring inherited colonial histories and the responsibility of realising implication.
Landscapes of Extraction