Memory Rooms Exhibition

My Honours Graduate Show at Stellenbosch University

When I was a young girl my sisters and I each had our own set of videotapes shot by my parents when we were babies. I remember fighting over who gets to watch their videos after school. When I was in Grade 6 the video footage was converted to DVDs. We stopped watching them because it was no longer easy to forward and rewind them to watch our favourite parts over and over again. 

When I came to university I asked for the digital files from my dad and started watching the videos in the evenings again. The rewatching of these videos lead to the realisation that I have barely any recollections of my childhood, besides this footage and stories told by my family. This discovery is what fuels my obsession with the personal archive. 

At the end of 2016, I started an artistic study of the footage. To me, this study is a continuing process of mourning the death of memory through artmaking. It entails repeatedly watching the first 45mins of the first video, shot mostly by my father. In this video, I am almost one year old and it doesn't feature my siblings, since I am the eldest. The footage portrays ordinary events in and around our house; my grandparents visiting, my father gardening, my parents preserving homegrown peas, bath time, bedtime, etc. 

While I watch this tape I plot my emotional reactions to every minute for the first three-quarters of an hour. The reactions are measured on a scale from 1-10. Each number is connected to a colour. The data is then reworked into visual explorations of what I feel when I watch the videos- this forms my practical outputs.

By conducting this study and by using the medium of paint I try to address questions like, “How does an image begin to replace actual memory of experiences to such an extent that it becomes the only reference to places and people?”; “How does one create art that deals with the death of self and others?”; “How does one create artworks that stimulate some sort of recognition of the past without referencing it directly?”. 

The study of these videos circles around three central themes of fascination: the home as the private core of the ordinary, the necessity to mourn, and various triggers or mnemonic devices that can be used to stimulate remembering. By using this personal video archive as reference material I create subjective mnemonic devices that explore how colour and form can simulate mind and body memory.