Dominique Edwards discusses her first solo exhibition with Kristine Kronjé

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Dominique Edwards recently launched her artistic career with her first solo exhibition at Commune1 in Cape Town. Showcasing a body of work produced for her recently completed Masters in Fine Art, The Distance Between Us, has emerged from a study into notions of place and being. Concerned with violent embodiment, thresholds and liminal spaces, the work on show explores the transformation of things from one state of being into another.

In many of your works, such as Burst, Weer lug and Waking, there exists a certain intrigue or ambivalence as to how the work is made which contributes to the cognitive dissonance or feeling of uncanniness in your work. In Burst, for example, there is a confusion as to what the object is and how the image was generated. How does this element of intrigue contribute to the effect or an understanding of the work?

I am particularly curious about how things are what they are and tend to want to take them apart, look at the sum of their perceived totality and work with that. The materiality of the object is therefore very important to me; it is as if I need to come to a certain understanding of the material before I can resolve a piece. This process is one of discovery, and the work resulting from various enquiries inevitably evolves into something I had not anticipated. The work seems to make itself, and though I labour at it, hold it, look at it and think about it, I regularly feel as though I am not responsible for its existence. The making of my work is perhaps governed by this process, a curiosity, an unknown, which seems also to seep into the experience of viewing the work.

Burst 2011, Video: Projection
Weer lug 2011, Video Waking 2011, Video: Projection

Exploring philosophical questions through the poetic, your work doesn’t seem to directly address social or political concerns. However, even though your work derives from a very personal space it definitely speaks of prominent aspects regarding the human condition. You mentioned, for example, that your The Hovercraft (Die Huiwertuig) drawings arose from a disassociation with place. What do you intend the viewer to gain from an experience of the work?

I cannot anticipate how someone would react to something that I have made. I also have no assumptions as to what a viewer might gain from my work. At the very least, I hope that they find it beautiful and that the quiet nature of the work hopefully allows for a turning back on the viewer – perhaps creating a certain introspection and acknowledgement of our shared human experience.

The Hovercraft (Huiwertuig) Series 2011,
Ink pen drawing

I find the notion of liminal spaces and the ephemeral in your work particularly interesting in relation to the idea of place, as that which is ephemeral and transient does not only suggest the transformation of things from one state of being into another but also from one “place” to another. It could, perhaps, suggest that our understanding of human existence is inextricably bound to place. Could you elaborate on this relationship between “being” and “place” in your work?

The Distance Between Us evolved from an enquiry into notions of being and place in the light of what I perceived to be a loss of place with reference to my mother’s recent death. The physicality of the body, the space it occupies, the traces and marks made by its various activities and its vertical movement, so tenuously hovering above the ground, was instrumental in my thinking. Human existence and place are, for me, inextricably linked. Edward Casey describes this so well in The Fate of Place:

Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for place: we are immersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all – to exist in any way – is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over them and through them. We live in places, relate to others in them, die in them. Nothing we do is unplaced.

Although the entire body of work consists of intricately and beautifully resolved art objects, one experiences a very strong performative aspect present within most of the work, specifically in pieces like Keep and Whole. What is the significance of the performative aspect in relation to the work?

I have always considered myself to be a maker of things. The act or activity of making, and how things are made, is very important to me. The “how” contributes to the initial sense-making with regard to the “what” and informs my interaction with the material and my understanding of its poetic reference.

Keep 2011,
Cotton paper,
Whole 2011, .22 and .38
Calibre on paper 500x700mm

Similar to this underlying performativity, sound seems to be an important component in many of the works. Whole, Weg (A/way), Oblivion and Burst all imply the presence of sound embedded in the violence of a gunshot or explosion. What is the significance of sound, and more specifically the absence of sound, in your work? 

The burst, the bang and the blast were such a visceral part to the making of this work, and the anticipation of the sound became an unbearable experience. Regardless of being the one to pull the trigger, or of being able to count down to zero with the firing of the Noon Gun, knowing that for a split second, at any given moment, something would give and reverberate with such force was unsettling. The end work is, however, stripped of this auditory aspect, which creates an interesting duality – where we understand the violence of the making, yet we are confronted with something quite the opposite.

Oblivion 2011, Noon gun and paper, Fragments of varying size
Scatter series 2011, CMYK Colour separation on fabriano, 460x660mm

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