By focusing on the archaeology and genealogy of memory as an application to further understand history, heritage and cultural phenomena, Lianca Heemro explores various mediums of performance, photography, installation, colour and text.
In these two separate photographic series (Die oorblywende and Die doek van my kulture) deal with the engagement of recorded histories, cultural semiotics, episodic memory and semantic memory.
Die doek, translates into English as Headscarf. In my culture, die doek has a long historic and symbolic significant in cultural dress. As well as that, I reference die doek recurringly because it has a place in my heart – my late grandmother, who I was very fond of, always wore a doek. As long as I knew her, I would always see her wearing different patterned and coloured doeks – every day. Along with this, vibrant colours and materials are exceedingly linked to Coloured South African identity. When I re-look at my memory, I especially would think this of Cape Town, where I grew up.
It is commonly known, that during the time period when South Africa was colonised, clothing and tradition from various cultures had been adopted by the groups of people whose descendants classify as modern-day Coloured South Africans. This symbolism of clothing is addressed in my work.
In terms of Die doek van my kulture, the beginning of visual illusion in this work is addressed with the attention to colour. Colour tampering has been made to my skin colour, which has been edited to a grey tone. In this way, reference is made to the power of black and white photography and film. I focus on referencing image-making and visual documentation of the past. The history of image-making as well as representation in image-making are dually analysed. 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.
Lianca Heemro (1998) is a transdisciplinary South African artist, who graduated at The Creative Academy with a Bachelor’s degree of Contemporary art (2020). Heemro is based in Cape Town, South Africa, with her studio in the vibrant suburb of Salt River.
She is a first-generation English-speaker in her Afrikaans-speaking Cape Coloured family. A huge aspect to her art practice is research, which includes oral history. On having deeper conversations with her mom, she had recently learnt that her late grandmother is originally from O’Kiep, Namaqualand. This moment of discovery was a turning point in her personal perception towards her heritages, which ignited her previous curiosity into the revision of existing historiographies of the Coloured South African identity.
This engagement of her own cultural identity was the starting process in 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.
In 2019, Heemro collaborated on a project, The ‘Coloured’ image of Afrikaans, with Frances Rose Laubscher and Izzy Ben Ebrahim – who were both translating and transcribing found text. Languages such as Arabic-Afrikaans, Afrikaans, Buginese, Malyu-Portuguese feature in this project. This project was a commemoration to Achmat Davids’ work, focusing as a case-study of his research done in Words the Cape slaves made: A socio-historical-linguistic study. The case-study proved and commemorated the direct inter-linkages of Cape Coloured and Cape-Malay Coloured heritage in South Africa, as well as, its contribution to the Afrikaans language – in which, culture and religion were the main driving forces behind this language emerging and existing to the potential it has today.
In 2020, Heemro initiated an inter-changeable performance project, Aspatial by annkca, in which she and other individuals use their own bodies and personal life experiences in order to explore formulated narratives connected to the idea of clothing/ dress/ costume.
Web site: https://liancaheemro.com/