2021 Artist entry

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Lianca Heemro


‘Die doek van my kulture’ forms part of a three-image photographic series. This work deals with the engagement of recorded histories, cultural semiotics, episodic memory and semantic memory.

Aspects of learning and unlearning are essential here. During the process of making these works, I had curiosity into understanding more of the mendable nature of remembrance. Die doek, translates into English as Headscarf. In my culture, Die doek has a long symbolic significant in cultural dress. Along with this, vibrant colours and materials are exceedingly linked to Coloured South African identity. When I think of my identity and the cultures that I come from genealogically, it is immensely diverse.

It is commonly known that during the time period of the Colonisation in South Africa, clothing/ tradition from various cultures had been adopted by the identity of people who classify as modern-day Coloured South Africans. With the symbolism of clothing, this is addressed.

The beginning of visual illusion in this work is addressed with the tampering of my skin colour to be grey and in this way referencing the power of black and white photography and film, and remembering the concept of perceiving the world in shades of grey. In this sense, I focus on referencing image-making and visual documentation of the past. The beginning of image-making historically and representation are part of that which are dually analysed.

Because of the interests in memory and visual perceptions, the next focal point is the notion of colour memory performance. Scientifically, the colour red has been proven to enhance memory performance; which is implemented in this photographic work in order to covey the importance of focusing on memory.

Part of my practice, involves me engaging with learning – more specifically self-learning, and revising my knowledge of my own cultural heritage. In these instances I use my own body and my own personal life experiences in order to explore formulated narratives in my work.

During the process of creating ‘Doek van my kulture’ I was conducting extensive research into Coloured South African identity, with a focus on origins of knowledge; origins of the identity; origins of languages; and the heritage of this identity’s position in education. My learning led me into long tunnels of thought and curiosity. It made me notice that I was observing my episodic and semantic memory.


Lianca Heemro (1998) is a transdisciplinary South African artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. She has completed a Bachelor’s degree of Contemporary art (2020) at The Cape Town Creative Academy.

In her overall art practice, the core element delves into the archaeology and genealogy of memory. Other themes delve into the sciences, geography, mathematics, linguistics, spirituality, philosophy, visual perceptions, and metaphysics.

Expressions and projections of inner subconscious feelings are led by her exploration into the architectural state of thinking, perception, and memory tracks, driven by the void and validity –adjacent. Formally, her work is abstracted and fragmented, which emphasizes the experiential element of her work.

She deals specifically with the archaeology and genealogy of memory from a Coloured South African Afrocentric perspective. She references associations link to and focusing on Apartheid; The colonisation of South Africa; slavery; indigenous South African Khoi and San groups; geography; culture; language; and National South African Archival resources.

These focuses all link to her practice’s involvement and engagement with learning – more specifically self-learning, and the revision of her own knowledge of her own cultural heritage. This essentially references Coloured South African heritage and identity as a form of historic remembrance in her work.

The engagement of her cultural identity converges to this being a process of mending and tackling the difficultly of confronting personal and national identity. For Coloured South Africans, historically, resources for this type of engagement has been strategically erased and undermined at a National scale.

The aim in the end is to create discourse on this topic. Essentially, her work justifies a multitude of facts or fragmented facts from the past – which are then resurfaced, acknowledged and encouraged for engagement to the public.

Web site: https://liancaheemro.com/


Artist: Lianca Heemro
Title: Doek van my kulture (photographic series), 2019
Medium: Giclee print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper 308GSM
Size: H:42 W:29.7 D:
Edition:5 Price:R4400