Conversation with my Dead Self (2019)
Work made for this project is a dialogue between the being-ness of life and the fact of my own death.
As the starting point, Margaret Atwood’s poem, ‘This is a Photograph of Me”, has stimulated a deeply personal and human exploration wherein some of the big questions have been asked. Through a variety of mediums, the work responds to Dr. İpek Çankaya’s curatorial vision and to the first iteration of this project that was shown in Istanbul in 2018.
My work is concerned with ideas of transformation, the afterlife, boundaries and boundlessness. It is through these lenses that the investigation for this series has been made. The project has given me the opportunity to comb through my life and metabolize experience through the action of collage, found object assemblage and installation. It has allowed me to find ways to transfer a writing practice I have, called Concentric Stories, into the visual world of objects. By looking forwards and backwards I have used my consciousness as a place to harvest memories and examine how they relate to people, place and land. Co-opting the anachronistic French theatre term, mise-en-scène (placing on stage), which refers to the placement of, and relationship between objects in order to tell a story, I have re-contextualized image and object in a symbolic conversation with my dead self. The imagining of a formless self is intrinsically connected to my experience of my mother’s sudden death ten years ago, and to my ongoing relationship with her.
My work process includes an obsessive gathering and sorting of found object and image. By integrating the aesthetic of collage, the work explores childhood, family, grief and dream. The photographic material was mined from a suitcase of old photographs on a recent trip home to South Africa.
The exhibition is composed predominantly of Shrines and Obscuras (2019). It includes Analogues, Microcosms and Selfie Photo Bombs (2019) as well as Anthropomorphs, Interventions and Mantra Amplifiers (2016-17)
The Shrines and Obscuras are small and autobiographical story-installations. The action of placing object, image and text in boxes became symbolic of studying memories, dusting them off and replacing them in a frame. By enacting this process from a hindsight perspective, the patterning and threads that connect me to ancestors and the afterlife, have been brought into a sharper focus. The Obscuras are viewed through antique glass negatives. They are tiny theatres and allude to ideas of old camera obscuras. The negatives represent an essence that is not confined to time or space and the photographs symbolize the crystallization of a fleeting moment and the improbability of freezing time. It is interesting to explore these ideas in the contemporary digital context.
The abstract notion of being in conversation with my dead self implies its simultaneous existence on some level and inspires thought that moves sideways in elastic time. This project scrutinizes the boundary that is my skin, finding it as much a porous and negotiable line as is the belief of and attachment to identity, personality and visibility. The work pushes into these ideas and attempts to defy the perceived restricted access to a formless paradigm.
It is both a broadcast and a search for meaning.