Corne Venter :: Artist Statement

This exhibition is a culmination of two years of study at UJ towards my MAVA. The exhibition is an exploration of palimpsest and self-dialogism in my own art. The works on exhibition attempt to construct Palimpsest as a visual language to engage with memories of trauma. I’ve taken a multi modal approach to my art making with this exhibition that is to say I have included fabric hangings, paintings, drawings and artist’s books. It is my hope that Susurration: Faint whispers, deep understanding offers visitors to my exhibition a viable entry point into seeking their own catharsis through engaging in self-dialogism and palimpsesting.

My work has always been personal, I find it is better to start from what I know and sort of work outwards towards bigger and more complex issues. I find it difficult to comment on big issues without knowing firstly what my part in it is, and my own position and therefor my responsibility when speaking.

When I started my research I was not at all sure of how to approach these very abstract concepts. My initial approach was aporetic: I read a little here and wrote a little there and created art to understand what my theoretical research was revealing to me. As I progressed a process of reciprocal growth started to take place between me and the research I was doing. When I read Sarah Dillon’s writings on the palimpsest my aim became clear: I started to understand the power that lies in analysing my own metaphorical palimpsest. Her writing also introduced me to the history of the palimpsest and the writers before her who analysed the palimpsest, like Thomas De Quincey and Gérard Genette. My growing understanding of the palimpsest enabled me to trace back instances where I had, unwittingly, applied this strategy before. This was a revelation, as I found myself no longer floundering in the dark but could see what I had been trying to express in my art for years: how to engage memories and resolve trauma through layering conversations and images. My reading and understanding of the pool of research surrounding the palimpsest gave me a way to see my mode of artmaking as a valid response, to see what I produced not as solitary outbursts of creativity that came only in times of crisis but as a systematic analysis of all that churned and bubbled inside me, the crescendo of many internal dialogues. I soon realised that palimpsesting was at the core of my artmaking and I had to understand what constituted the layers of my own palimpsest for me. I turned to the study of Dialogical Self Theory (DST), which opened up a whole universe of conversations within me; through coupling the palimpsest and the dialogical self as I understood it from DST I found a practical solution for me to transfer what I felt into my artmaking through the act of palimpsesting and the theoretical knowledge of palimpsest.