This project investigates the battlefields of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, which has one of the highest concentrations of battlefield in the world.
The KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa has one of the highest concentrations of battlefields in the world. Zulu wars, Shaka, Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Colenso, Spioenkop, Ladysmith, Dundee, Churchill, Blood River, Cetshwayo, Boers—these are some of the terms which are associated with this internationally renowned area. One could go into detail about historical events and wars, but in summary, these fields endured over a span of seventy years, one historical drama after another. It is the land that endured military engagements that were to shape the course of South African and world history, and rocked the pedestal of the British Empire.
The Battlefield project has been motivated by my interest in the relationship between space, memory and history, and relates vaguely to my project 550km - the Druschba Pipeline. When working with exterior spaces I am interested in looking at charged sites with significant histories. Yet I am making images that offer little or no discernible evidence of either past events or current tension. Often invoking the conventions of romantic landscape painting, my images, attempt is to raise the question of photography’s real ability to document a place and expose its history. A picture of a field can be simply a picture of a field; its significance can only be materialized by human experience. This is the notion I am interested in exploring.
This work also relates to my general interest in space. The politics of space has been the central interest in my work over the last ten years. Spaces - urban, private, public, interior and exterior, hold a complex embodiment of meanings.
In particular, I have become interested in the ways in which demarcation can be achieved through decoration and organization, the way individuals express themselves through how they organize, use and decorate their spaces, and how these activities illuminate expressions of cultural values, ideals, beliefs, individual taste and sensibilities. Equally important are the ways in which architecture and decoration can reflect temporary liberation from everydayness.
The stone, steel, and mortar of a city or a landscape hold embedded imprints of the collective aspirations of different eras. Disorder and order are in constant flux, as the landscape expresses grandeur or devastation, oppression or dynamism. These notions have motivated and inspired my works and are the foundation for most of my projects.
During the summer of 2011 I was invited as a visiting artist to the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, which allowed me to start investigating the battlefields in the KwaZulu-Natal area. I was able to conclude my residency with an exhibition in the Jack Heath Gallery in Center for the Visual Arts. I felt, however, that I barely scratched the surface. Therefore, I returned to the South Africa in 2013 for residencies and re-visited the area. I was able to conclude my visit with a new body of work. The Battlefield portfolio consists of 35 works, edition of 3 (with embossing). Each work is holding an oval photographic image, text about where and when the image was taken (herbarium inspired) and a round embossing in the lower left hand corner. The body of work also includes 3 videos.