Nina Turok Shapiro

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

After Image: Echoes in Colour

My artistic praxis explores nostalgia and memory in relation to my experience as a second-generation South African in the Jewish diaspora. I reimagine my family archives through performative photography, silk-screen printing, colour selection, and video art.

From the silence of previous diasporic generations emerges a vacuum in the archive. Much is left to the imagination in the interpretation of their personal experiences. Hence my praxis emerges as an attempt to navigate the liminality intrinsic to a diasporic identity – an identity that is intertwined with the enigmatic histories and cultures of my ancestors, together with my contemporary experiences in modern-day South Africa.

Based on oral stories, narratives, and family photographs, I create and enact my own version of certain family members and ancestors, playfully engaging with archetypes – such as that of conventional Jewish and Eastern European gendered dress codes of the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. I embody these archetypes as a means of relating to my ancestors’ experience of being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Germany. I question what is lost in oral retellings and bring myself into the understanding of these stories, reconstructing the idea of an individual through a deconstructive and anti-portrait approach.

Silk-screen printing allows for the creation of a new form of documentation and image-making in which I combine and intertwine myself and my family’s history. Using my digitised archive and my own constructed photographs, I zoom in on specific moments that help form a narrative. This allows for pixelation, a loss of information, and abstraction when these zoomed-in moments become silk-screen prints. The boundaries between analogue and digital processes become blurred, resulting in a memory landscape where moments of combining different media become frames of parallel narratives.

Colour holds immense significance in my work. The careful selection of colours and their combinations for my silk-screen prints is a deliberate attempt to evoke a sense of softness, warmth and, at times, a subtle uneasiness. Some prints comprise unexpected or uncomfortable colour combinations, while others exude a gentle quality, reminiscent of nostalgia or childhood.

In addition to the silk-screen prints, this body of work includes various video art pieces that engage in dialogue with the prints. I use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to evoke a non-linear understanding of space and time, reimagining the relationship between the past and the future. Moreover, by utilising AI software to produce video art, I am separated from the outcome of my art-making, emphasising a sense of alienation intrinsic to the diasporic experience.

My artistic practice is a personal exploration, deeply rooted in my own understanding and construction of nostalgia and memory. Through the act of collecting oral stories, photographs, videos, information, and colour, my work presents as the cumulative manifestation of these personal artefacts. The remediation of these fragments of memory acts as a filter through which I renegotiate and reimagine my identity.