please forgive me
please forgive me is the title of the artwork that I created during Tankwa Artscape 2019. Held in the remote Tankwa Karoo which is an arid, semi-desert geographical area in South Africa, the work consists of a series of short performance pieces captured by photographer/videographer Kleoniki Vanos that are knitted together into a short film.
The curatorial framework of 'Land' could be widely interpreted although a prime requisite was that works should be ephemeral or performance / sound based so as not to interfere with the natural environment. As a previous participant of the inaugural Tankwa Artscape 2018 I was more familiar with the terrain and understandings around a landscape that J.P de Villiers describes as 'already perfectly full.' My intentions going into this year's residency was therefore surprisingly clear to myself: although I had no idea how I was going to do these performances I knew that it would involve wearing a dress which I had made by the very talented Simeon Designs. And, although I had no idea as to why I fastened multiple D-rings at the bottom of the dress prior to leaving, once there, in the desolation, this was answered: the D-rings became a pivotal fastener between myself (in the dress) and the landscape itself as I physically fastened myself to fences and the earth.
I mention the detail of the D-rings with good reason: so often we get a gut feeling about something that may make very little sense at the time but which are - and certainly so in my case - urgencies placed within us to create in a certain way. Certainly, creating please forgive me is a clear example of an urgency I felt I had to do with very little choice about not doing it. There were times during the residency that I felt quite alone in walking this path as I challenged myself around my whiteness and colonisation. I particularly looked at unpacking issues around my own genealogical role pertaining to land issues in Southern Africa. At times this felt almost sacrileges, flooding me with guilt and a non-identifiable sense of shame which caused me considerable distress. However, I knew that this was something I simply had to do, and that what I had started I would complete.
In hindsight I think it was an act of braveness, releasing something in me that I find hard to describe which, hopefully, will be sensed by the viewer.
Photo credit: @LeliHoch