Displacement probes what is physically carried when leaving home and the emotional and spiritual baggage you bring with you in your body. This exhibition consists of 15 electro-etched intaglio prints on rag paper, that explore the emotional and physical effects of being forced to leave home.
The small suitcase that as young children my brother and I shared when we had to flee from the Congo became the inspiration for this work. Through this work I explore those things that you physically take when you leave home, and the baggage you carry in your body such as memory, familiarity, cultural identity, grief, sadness and loss.
My brother and I made difficult choices encountering conflicting emotions when compelled to decide what to take and what to leave behind when we were forced to leave home. I put my favourite doll’s clothes into the suitcase, but in the tension of the moment I had to leave the doll behind. My brother chose a number of small plastic farm animals but had to abandon his favourite painted metal barn that housed them. Each time we played with our treasured items we were reminded of what we had and what we had lost.
My experience of involuntary displacement from a volatile, dangerous political situation was dramatic and emotional. In this work I desire to provide points of connection with viewers as many people have experienced physical and emotional upheaval related to being displaced due to many causes including natural disasters, economic imperatives or physical danger and insecurity. Most people have a recent memory or a family story of displacement. No journey is certain when one’s world is turned upside down, everyone carries physical and emotional baggage.
In this body of work the items of clothing that are reminiscent of what my mother packed for me are etched into the metal plates, recording the highs and the lows, the mountains and the valleys of the experience of leaving home. The nuanced slightly out of focus, photographic like translation of the front and back of the clothing, records the physical outside and emotional inside, marking uncertainty, unpredictability, fear and trauma.