Ke Lefa Laka / Her-story
Eight years ago I lost my mother and I needed to explore the possibility of keeping a connection with her. In my journey I began looking for pieces of my mother in the house, I found many photos and clothes which had always been there but which I had ignored over the years. There she was smiling and posing in these clothes.
The idea of ‘the ghost’ started to emerge in my work. Like a presence that isn’t, of which Roland Barthes speaks about in his book ‘Camera Lucida’ in which he explores “various photographs from his family album as he searches for a likeness that can begin to represent his feelings for and memory of his mother, who had recently died”. (Barthes, 1981, 96)
My reconnection with her became a visual manipulation of ‘her-our’ histories. I began inserting myself into her pictorial narrative by emulating these snaps of her from my family album. I would dress in the exact clothes that she was wearing in these thirty-year-old photographs and mimic the same poses. This was my way of marrying the two memories (mine and of my mother). I later developed digital photomontages where I juxtaposed old photographs of my mother retrieved from the family archives with photographs of a ‘present version of her’ - me, to reconstruct a new story and a commonality – she is me, I am her and there remains in this commonality so much difference, and so much distance in space and time. I realised that I was scared that I was beginning to forget what my mother looked like, what she sounded like, and her defining gestures. The photomontages became a substitute for the paucity of memory, a forged identification and imagined conversation.