Artist’s statement


My entire art-practice is dedicated to translating the experience of loss into a visual language. My point of departure in this enquiry is through the engagement with materials in a metaphorical way.  


One of the ways that I do this is through the ‘making strange’ of familiar objects and material. In Breathe, I have used tree roots from a tree that was uprooted on our property, and thereafter went through a fire. As a humble, charred and almost completely destroyed object, it has been elevated to a center piece in our exhibition Points of Departure, and placed and installed as if it is bursting out of the chimney of the exhibition space. By supplanting air roots from a Fucus to the stump, my approach is a kind of resurrection of the tree, an attempt to give it a new life. It is also a commemoration of the many big trees that had to make way for the erection of this building.


Breathe is also a comment on the practice of making art, so aptly stated by the mother of performance art Marina Abramovic: 

“You have to find a way to actually elevate the human spirit so that it’s a kind of oxygen to society. To bring concepts and awareness, to ask … questions.”

  • Breathe
  • Emma Willemse
  • 2022
  • Found uprooted tree, Ficus air roots, paint shards
  • Variable
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