Kirstie Pietersen

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

She Guards The Things of The Past and Keeps Them in Store.

She Guards The Things of The Past and Keeps Them in Store, is a visual auto-biographical exhibition drawn from my maternal archive. The central focus of this body of work is placed on the use of analogue photographs that have documented events and people from the maternal side of my family. The events that have been preserved were all documented at a time before my birth.

The title of the exhibition takes Its cue from an excerpt from Simone de Beauvoir’s book titled The Second Sex. Beauvoir’s focal argument is placed on the oppressive nature of domestic care work. Part of the task of making and maintaining a home is the preservation of familial and individual history. Homes are made of objects; they are polished and stored away behind glass cabinets and they hang on the walls prompting stories to be told. Therefore, the title references these acts of preservation mostly carried out by women.

Through this archive I engage with the conventions of family photography and how individuals are socialised into their particular roles. My work specifically engages the gendered dynamics that foster familial relationships and the roles of women in my family who disappear into the role of wife and mother.  These roles are often saturated in patriarchal beliefs and values adding to the image of the ideal family. These concerns are engaged through various processes of image reproduction where I impose onto these photographs to expose  problematic gender dynamics. This can be viewed through Unions of Time. Large scale images of wedded couples are printed on tulle and hang within the exhibition space. My choice to use wedding photographs sourced from my archive is due to my assessment of the ways people perform their roles through bodily gestures. These hyper-real performances of love and romance often do not provide an accurate documentation of the details of family life.  As light travels through multiple layers of prints, images of women shift and disappear communicating the disappearance of the Individual into a domestic role.

The works that make up the exhibition look at memory – the act of looking at and through the past is often hard to discern. Therefore, the inaccessible past is communicated through images that oscillate between becoming and unbecoming, fluctuation, disappearance, erasure and the negation of certain images from my familial archive.

The photographs I have presented in this body of work were all captured at a time in South Africa when people of colour were socially and economically immobilised and this is reflected through my family’s domestic settings and spaces that they have represented themselves in and navigated through revealing the interconnection between private and public history.