Artist Statement: Elegy 

The digital print Elegy is the root image for a series in which the constructs of memory, identity and place are investigated in terms of the loss of a home. This series, as seen in several of the artist’s books in the 101 ways to long for a home installation, allude to a narration of the effects of displacement on the psyche.


Elegy originated from a collage constructed laboriously by hand, using found imagery. The prototype was scanned and then digitally manipulated through various stages, adding an image of my own thumbprint as a ‘shadow’ of the re-imagined home-like structure. The structure is precariously balanced on one rickety leg, implying an ability for movement but also possibly a pending fall and destruction.

My research in the displacement knowledge field resulted in the conclusion that the loss of a home as experienced by the displaced constitutes not only a physical loss but also a loss on a psychological, sociological and cultural level. It is experienced as a loss of a specific symbolic interaction with the world, as a loss of those symbols that constituted the individual’s way of being in the world, the body, and the self. Elegy is intended as a self-preservation image constructed by the psyche, as a way to counteract these losses. Alluding to an embodiment of the lost home(s), Elegy is suggesting a kind of relic to commemorate the displacement experience; but could be perceived as a symbol of longing and hope for the future home.

  • Elegy
  • Emma Willemse
  • 2013
  • Digital collage printed on Hahnemühle
  • Limited edition of 5 prints
  • 130 x 70 cm
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