CF: How has your process taken shape this year in the context of the pandemic? Did the national lockdown shift your relationship to your studio practice?
MN: The lockdown has indeed shifted my practice. I moved home when lockdown was announced because as much as I enjoy living alone, I didn’t want to be crippled by the loneliness of being unable to see anyone whenever I wanted to get out of my head. Moving home made me realise that my mother’s house should actually be a place of practice for the work we do. It is easier working here instead of having to call and constantly travel home to film. Being home offered me prolonged conversations and time to play with my mother with this work. I set up a studio in her lounge, we fought because she says I always take over her house whenever I’m home and my moving out gave her house space to breathe without my mess. I laughed because since starting the work Mma Pelo O Jele Serati, I have become increasingly aware of these moments that proclaim my Dodzen’s love for me. It’s in the negotiation, of space and everything else that I realise how much this woman loves me. Although I don’t recall my mother ever saying that she loves me, she does overtly show me; she makes my work with me, she lets me take over her home, she trusts me, negotiates with me and that, that’s the vernacular that is of interest to my work. Similar to Lerato Shadi’s Sugar and Salt. I always go back to that video and laugh at Mme Shadi’s reactions throughout the video. The work warms my heart because for me it also speaks to how our mothers love us so that they would engage in these awkward acts with us. Half of the time my mother doesn’t understand why we’re even doing half of the things we do, but she willingly participates and collaborates and that fills my heart.
I recall Simon Gush saying in the initial stages of lockdown that because we now work from home, the site of work has shifted but not necessarily the structure of it. This proposes a problem whereby work and life have become conflated, making it difficult to separate the two. This is not the integration that we have always desired, but rather a consumption of personal life by work. This has been so true for me. I haven’t been able to separate the two, but in a more optimistic light. I enjoy not having to travel to the studio, and being able to work at whatever hour and then walk a few steps to go to bed. There’s a fluent interchange that I enjoy.
I am moving back to Joburg next year and I am looking for a space large enough to make my messes in. I want to work and live in the same space. To live with my work and maybe get a dog and start my family.Motlhoki Nono