The year is 1991. On the eve of Christmas a girl of nine is shot dead in a domestic incident. A loss of life had occurred, an irredeemable loss. A life brought to a swift halt by the indelible mark of violence.
Violence has been a preoccupation of mine for some time now, be it the paranoia and fear associated with violent crime in South Africa, or the hushed non-disclosure of violence within the domestic environment. Drawing from personal experience (Berenice having been my childhood friend), my interest in BERENICE is not in the moment, the violent act, but in the effect - the wake, the individual and social impression.
Berenice 10 – 28
I remember going round to the house after Berenice had died. Her mother held me for hours and hours, or at least that’s how it felt. Was I substitute? Yes, but of course no...
Berenice 10-28 presents 19 disarming photographic portraits, the girl in each a potential representation of Berenice – a substitute of sorts. There is a clone-like duplicate quality to the portraits; the same white vest, the same blank background. The use of black and white highlights the quasi-documentary nature of the imagery [being as they are records of a life unlived]. Further emphasising the surrogate nature of the girls, the portraits are encased by a clinical red border with a title at the bottom reading: BERENICE, and numbered from 10-28 - a portrait for every year from the year after her death to that of the works realisation (2010).
A stop-frame animation, styled on 'missing persons' TV inserts. The video is a memorial of sorts to the nameless, faceless, forgotten victims of domestic violence/homicide. The indistinct sense of identity communicated by the generic presentation of the subject, as well as the accompanying garbled audio and text [a kind of illegible, sonically-fractured roll of honor] comments on the often hushed-up nature of these incidents, as well as the complex ethical issues involved in any sort of disclosure.
An installation meant to disrupt the exhibition space and challenge the viewer on a tactile, emotional level. Last Seen acts as an environmental cue - referencing the suburban nature of such violent incursions, and how the 'everyday' scene [once so effected by violence] becomes funereal, elegiac. The work explores themes of closure and resignation - in the wake of such violent incursions an attempted restoration of 'normality'. Referencing with a certain sense of irony the carol 'Silent Night', the work presents the phrases, 'All is calm', and on the underside, 'All is bright'.
BERENICE 10 - 28 / 2010 pigment ink on cotton Baryta 108 x 75 cm edition: 3
BERENICE 10 - 28 / 2010 installation view
LAST SEEN / 2010 installation [suspended panel] 180 x 250 cm [floor panel] 180 x 250 cm
MISSING PERSONS / 2010 / video stills
MISSING PERSONS / 2010 / stop-frame animation & sound piece, 30 sec