Cuttings 2020

Pippa Hetherington

2019 - 2020

Cuttings 2020 is an enquiry into the difficulty of disentangling our histories through visual storytelling pivoting around the relationship between female descendants of the Eastern Cape Xhosa and the 1820 British Settlers in South Africa. Using clothing and portraiture as a metaphor to symbolize power and identity, this body of work marks 200 years since the 1820 British Settlers landed in South Africa.

Two centuries later, female descendants from Xhosa and 1820 Settler families sit for portraits.

Inspired by Yinka Shonibare’s (CBE) use of Dutch wax-printed cotton in assemblages and sculptures, the dresses are made from cloth that was introduced into parts of Africa by European colonialists that have now been adopted as various African cultural identity. Examples include German Blue Print (isishweshwe) and Dutch wax-printed cotton. The dresses indicate how these fabrics represent tangled post-colonial complexities and identity disrupting the notion that fine art and refined arts and craft were typically associated only with white Europeans. Stylistically informed by carefully composed portraits by Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keita, the work speaks to the democratic camera and the relevance of vernacular photography.

The attachment to land in our country goes back centuries. Currently, there is contested political debate about land reform, which is ongoing and complicated. People continue to be hurt in this process of reckoning. The ownership of land is steeped in bloody and brutal colonial history. Tribal wars, Frontier wars, Anglo-Boer wars, and Zulu wars to name a few—the consequences of dispute around who the land belonged and belongs to. The stories of heartbreak and blood that have seeped into the earth are the rubble that makes up the landscape. We can’t disentangle ourselves from the history of where we come from.

This is a tribute to grief, loss and mourning, woven around family, history, displacement and memory. The thread and fabric connect us to what we have lost, bonding us to the past and the present.

Memory is a tapestry of relationships. This exhibition is an enquiry into heritage, history, kin and remembrance.

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