disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations)

a continuation of the exhibition disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (or, the ghost in the house)

 

a video installation by LEORA FARBER

30 September – 30 November 2021
Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town

disquieting domesticities/vestiges of violence (regenerations), forms the second iteration of the disquieting domesticities/vestiges of violence installation. Following from the first iteration, subtitled (or, the ghost in the house), which was staged at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town from May to September 2021, the impressions of domestic objects that inhabited the space have transformed from material matter into the filmic realm. 

 

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

While in their physical states, the impressions already embodied an ever-changing, liminal space of becoming, slipping in-between corporeality and ephemerality, tactility and translucency, reality and imagination. This sense of liminality is heightened as the impressions are transposed into film, a medium in which the transientness of light, time and space is foregrounded. In their filmic reiterations, the impressions appear and disappear across the screen as ephemeral, ethereal, transient forms (which often dissolve into formlessness); they become fleeting semblances of presence which simultaneously unfold into absence. Through these precarious ‘things’ that are barely things, one is invited to try and grasp the ungraspable – fugitive, fragmented remembrances of familiarity, strangeness, comfort, dis-ease, intimacy, distance, vulnerability, trauma, complicity and loss.

 

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

 

In their reference to the troubled history of West-East cross-cultural and economic exchange, the filmic impressions, like their material counterparts, become spectral traces of the violent colonial legacies that haunt post-colonial domestic interiors. As hauntologies of British and Dutch Imperialism and colonialism – the very mechanisms that drove the enculturation of capital, set against an historical backdrop of dispossession, exploitation, genocide, displacement and precarity – the impressions evoke uncanny spectres of disquietude that reside in the present and through endless processes of regeneration, will return to haunt the future.

 

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

The impressions of domestic objects that feature in the first and second iterations of this installation are made through an experimental combination of artmaking and scientific practices, using microbes, life processes and biomaterials as media. These practices are often located under the umbrella term ‘bioart’.

 

installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall   installation image, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

installation images, disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (regenerations), 2021. Photographs © Mike Hall

In the films ghosted matter (2018-2021), chimera (2021), animacies (2021) and dark matter(s) (2021), the impressions featured are made from a cellulose-fibre produced by the symbiotic action of the bacteria Gluconacetobacter xylinus and yeast. As it feeds off a mixture of tea and sugar, this culture grows to form a cellulose fibre that when dehydrated, bears uncanny resemblance to traces of human skin – sloughed off, shed, discarded. In phantom hurt (2019-2021), the impressions are made from a solidified mixture of agar and nutrient, onto which live, naturally pigmented, pathogenic bacteria have been painted. Inscribed into, imprinted onto, or infused with the translucent jelly-like substrate, the bacteria grow unpredictably and uncontrollably in response to the patterns or surface applications that the artist attempts to create for them. In both instances, rather than being the product of her creative efforts alone, the work is made through collaboration between the micro-organisms and the artist; they happen ‘with’ the agencies of the microbes in a dynamic process of organic exchange. 

Learn more about disquieting domesticities, vestiges of violence (or, the ghost in the house) HERE.