Gina-Rose Bolligello

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition


“By invoking the trope of the ghost, hauntology helps to demonstrate how there still lingers in the absence of a thing, a spectral element that is more real than its corporeal counterpart.” (Glazier, 2017:1). “The Derridean notion of hauntology points to a certain empty space without presence, the ghost of a substance, it therefore informs the precise deconstructionist notion of temporality” (Glazier, 2017:2) The idea that a space is never truly empty even if it appears to be so physically but there is always something lingering, is important to this body of work. The idea that a person’s experience of the present is defined by the past, therefore, this past haunts and lingers, even though it is no longer physically existent (Moloi, 2020).

This project originated from a research essay I did on the Slave Lodge. Upon visitation I found out that there was a wheat farm in Mowbray called Coornhoop where slaves lived and worked. This intrigued me as the farm name is the same as the street name of my childhood home in Mitchells Plain, the only difference being that it was spelt Koornhoop. I decided to further my research to find out more about this farm and the enslaved people that lived there. I took an interest in wanting to learn their history. For approximately 60 years the farm was owned by ‘free blacks’. This was significant to me as the free blacks were people who were once also enslaved people.

The project focuses on an attic space which I was informed by those currently living on the property was where the enslaved people were housed. It is a part of the property which has been left mostly desolate and untouched. There is no evidence of life within the space or that there was any life, all that remains is dust. Dust is compiled of various different particles, some of which include dead skin cells, hair and clothing fibres (Sarnoff, 2021). Due to the dust being the only thing remaining in the space, it is fitting to look at the dust as something which could hold the memory of those who once lived there.

There are no drawings or much other information on who the people who lived there were besides the names of the owners and some family members. The names of the slaves, however, are unknown. As no other record of the existence of the people that lived there can be found, my project instead deals with their ‘ghosts’, and takes the direction of imagining and connecting with the lives and existences that were once there and could still possibly be there in an alternative form.

“In other words, when I leave a trace, it will speak for me when I am not present to speak for myself. It will speak for me when I am dead, so that the leaving of a trace and the process of archiving, whether I realise it or not, are haunted by the ghost that I will one day become and by the ghosts of those who will read the trace in the future and make sense of it in different ways. In ways that are unpredictable.” (Verne, 2020:38).

“In other words, when I leave a trace, it will speak for me when I am not present to speak for myself.” Verne, 2020:38