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Hendrikshof / Henry's court (2010)

Conceptual photography

This is a photographic performance done during the late hours of Old Xmas Eve in a farmhouse kitchen. The farmhouse is renovated and used as a guesthouse” entitled Hendrikshof. It is situated on the perimeter of a rural inland town called Niewoudtsville, a place known for its wild flowers and a brutal farm murder of a UK mother and three year old daughter, dubbed as the flower murders. Black and white official photographs lavishly decorate the wall space and celebrate the male lineage of three Hendrikke and their outstanding achievements as lawyers and farmers during the apartheid era. Stone and Iron Age work tools were meticulously placed in-between miniature wood-carved wagon-wheels, “Mazawattee” tea tins and other “African artifacts”.

On this overnight-stay, I had been plagued by the contentiousness of the objects. Was it because this kitchen was emptied of meaning as the objects drift in a cold, unclaimed space, stripped of intimacy? It was now a self-catering guesthouse kitchen frequented by tourists. The objects are mindless décor as they cannot complete nostalgic family memories and are lost fragments. The work tools remind us of patronage and land entitlement, of being discovered by a white farmer on a farm. They exist outside the museum space, but they are disconnected to prehistoric culture. The objects represent Afrikaner culture, but they are remnants of pre-history, ethnic culture, British colonialist heritage and a nomadic lifestyle. And, the Hendrikke was a hair-raising coincidence as my Afrikaner family has a generation of three Hendrikke too.

In a seizure of collective consciousness, I became a mediating go-between between the family and the objects, my own family, myself and the viewers of the documentary performative artworks. I have acted out “collective guilt”, trying to save the leftovers of local cultures that struggle to authentically define themselves in relationship to each other. I created a séance that rearrange the objects in the indoor barbeque area to transmute them into valuable induced metallurgical objects, using the camera’s night vision as a device that coats rather than capture a warm, golden glow on the immediate environment. I have reconnected the objects in political terms.

Thresholds: Narratives, geo-gnostic eye (transmutation and awakening), restorative justice, athanor