Conversations with my Father

  • When I was a young girl, I was strictly forbidden from digging through my father’s belongings. We all knew he had a collection of things he had assembled during his career as a policeman, which he stored in metal trunks, suitcases and boxes in a wooden shed outside our house. Sometimes when my father was out I would spend hours and hours sifting through and dressing up in his uniforms, badges, watches, bullets, dog tags, pens, pencils, stamps, matchboxes, cassette tapes, photographs of my mother and his police dog Shadow, pipes, pipe cleaners, shoes and shoe polish, and some objects I had no idea the purpose of.  As a young girl I spent a lot of time trying to put pieces of my father’s life together.
    Conversations with my Father is one part of a continuous dialogue (2011 - to date) between myself and the objects, images, sound recordings and documents I inherited in 2010 after my father died of a rare motor neuron disease which rendered him unable to speak for the last year and a half of his life.  
    Both my paternal grandfather and my father were South African Police (SAP) and their respective careers spanned the rise and fall of the Apartheid era.  

    My father was a good man, he was a good father, he was also a product of his environment and part of a history which is deeply problematic.  In my investigation I turn the forensic gaze onto the evidence of my father as official and authoritarian figure.  This act of scrutinizing, archiving, layering and manipulating allows me to keep in contact with my father to process my own inherent guilt. 

    All sound is from cassette tapes I found in the trunks belonging to my dad that were stored in the shed. It was recorded during the Angolan Boarder War in 1972 when my father was there with SAP sniffer dogs seeking out land mines.  He was taking a tape recorder around and was interviewing all of the troops in his platoon. Someone takes the recorder and turns it onto my father, that is where the video starts.  All gunshots and dog barking is live and the song at the end is a Xhosa funeral march which is also a live recording.
  • 2011
    Digital C Prints
    8 x 10 inches framed behind museum glass