The work is site-specific, situated in Verulam Kwa-Zulu Natal. On a piece of land that my grandparents leased from the government and was transformed into a vegetable farm. My grandparents are deceased. The land is still currently on a lease agreement. On the farm, there’s a house which was built by my grandfather. The farm has been passed down from my grandfather to my father. The walls of the house have embedded writings of telephone and phone numbers written by my grandmother. A form of engravings with the use of stone, charcoal, and ink.
The work starts to explore how I communicate not in words but through material language.
A question of what to do when the past starts to inform the work. Thinking about the land and the politics of the soil.
Accessing a spiritual realm becomes a metaphor to look into the past and history. History is something that continuously creeps into the present. When working autobiographically the work is heavily connected to us as an individual and a spirit. A question of how do we allow others in, and remain subjective. Without prescribing a visual language and romanticising our kind of sense of self within history. The work takes on a kind of anti-form, anti-aesthetic attitude as a reaction against the art of the Institution partly because beauty and form are seen as distorting grand narratives to be deconstructed.
A question of whether the ideal state of the art, is one risen to such a spiritual level that it no longer requires a visual form. Why did these people take up so much space on the wall? The phone numbers on the walls speak to a present of something that happened in that space, they show movement and are telling us something. Speaking to my grandmother not know how to read or write. We don’t know who these numbers are for. Nor do we know, who these people were in my grandmother’s life that needed their numbers quite bold on the wall? Why did these people take up so much space on the wall?
I think there’s something in the act of marking these walls with unidentified individuals. We don’t know who they are but they were important to my grandmother. I think the work is about these numbers and what they represent. These numbers represent the individuals my grandmother could connect to and call upon.
I have allowed the work to inform me of how to manipulate it. The material in this case is the memory, space, and the room and it has asked me to work in a different way. When one works in such a manner they are moving beyond structures of what is work. My grandmother’s writings on the walls form a kind of embodiment of a lived space. I have internalized, processed, and realized that my grandmother isn’t confined to this space but rather that this space embodies a kind of form of my grandmother.
The work takes on a form of audio, giving a sort of respect to space an act of mourning by reciting the numbers on the walls. The work is not just about my grandmother’s spirit which is embodied within these walls but also those numbers represent individuals gone before me and was once a form of a physical connection. Death is inevitable. I am trying to understand myself, ancestry, history, and memory. I think the work is about connection. A physical sense of connection is the writing on the wall but at the same time feeling a spiritual connection in the space. How do I reconcile that? How do you reconcile a spiritual connection in a space that can’t be accessed physically?
Situating the work- Letter to Zen Marie (Supervisor)
I use to think of my work as being auto-ethnography but there’s a moment where you have to explore narratives and fiction to connect the dots and to work through forms of an enigma as there has been so much which has been left outside the archive. The work is rejective to the forms of regurgitating how other people have articulated and written my story and then given it back to me to narrate it as my own.
The visualization is not the work, the work is what I have done before and after. I have been going back and forth, trying to find my words and trying to find my narrative. The work has brought me back to this space. The work is not about my grandmother it’s about me. It’s about what I am doing to try and reclaim my history. To try and reclaim my movement.
It’s not my intention to show a physical form of work. I don’t want to justify what I am doing by reassuring the examiners that I am making something. I have made so many things and even me thinking about this is an act of me making. I just want you to be part of this experience of me not giving you what you think you need as an affirmation of all the energy and effort I have put into this timeline of making and learning.
I am not making a work that you can see and feel nor am I giving you the conventions of what it means to experience an artwork. I am telling you so you can tell those fucken idiots in the department of who I am, this is what I am doing and let them fucken deal with it. Why would I want to show a physical work after four years of working my ass off, everybody knows my work ethic. I am not showing physical work, I am showing a concept that exists in everybody’s means in an abstract form.