Life size polyurethane cast and soil.
“Unearthed”, an installation, is of a series of sculptures which were interred in Grahamstown’s Waainek Cemetery for a period of eighteen months, then exhumed in materially transformed states. This burial viscerally represents the loss, or burial, of a woman’s self upon her transformation into a widow. The internment and exhumation describe the process of mourning as an excavation into the body and into memory, from which the widow must emerge and redefine her personal and social identity.
Unearthed – One more night with you (2009)
600 fired clay hot water bottles 15cm – 25cm each
600 clay hot water bottles, titled One More Night with You, become fetish objects, ineffectually standing in for the absent body of the loved one. Each bottle represents a night without the beloved, and the clay bottles are displayed in an endless continuum in a circular gallery, thus marking time. The broken bottles piled in a corner speak of the impossibility of physical reunion in death.
Unearthed” – 2 of 5 Selves (2009)
Fired Clay on Soil Plinths. 1.5 meter cubes
These sculptures include a series of five Selves: mangled figures that exceed the self to express the ravages of grief. These maimed Selves are an attempt to portray the effects of emotional trauma on the physical body. They work back towards a space in the world from psychosomatic grief: a painfully nipped-in waist, truncated limbs, small gaping orifices all lean out for support whilst at the same time folding into themselves.
Anon” – 72 plastic hot water bottle ‘reliquaries’ (2009)
Soil, resin, plastic, replicated photographs, text, momentoes. 20 meters x 2.5 meters
The unyielding clay hot water bottles beneath the ground facilitate the transition to the second part of the exhibition literally above the ground, Anon, where the same form is repeatedly cast in clear plastic and filled with deteriorating fragments of treasured mementoes of the deceased. The loss of the body, that of both the loved object (the husband) and consequently the self (now redefined as a widow) is a painful mediation on the confusion and loss of memories themselves. In the construction of remembering greater losses occur, for all memory is re-presentation.
The two exhibition spaces thus trace my mourning process, where the pull below, towards the buried self absorbed into the formless earth, is counteracted by the pull above towards the unearthed self and into space of society, language and semiotics. This is an identification and relocation of self and an attempt to find a voice in propria persona: away from wife and widow to that, for the first time, as an artist.
Image 7: “Anon” – 14 parcels of deceased’s clothing (2009)
Wax, polyurethane, string. 14 parcels each 30cm x 30cm
In this space we find the clothing of the deceased, stiffened, cut up, rebound and fixed in wax. What to do with these moldering but corporeal objects that have become less important over time but nevertheless carry personal accountability – bound together, re-ascribed, can they occupy space beyond continual but vaporizing reminder of deceased?