‘Artists have an important role to play in telling stories about our turbulent history, especially when so many of the sincere gestures which make up this history have been cut down and mutilated.’
A central theme in Marasela’s (1977) work is dealing with memories from the past. Her alliance with black South Africans has led her to delve into the South African heritage like an archivist. But she also gives her own personal view of history, therefore ushering both her own story and that of others into the historical framework.
Marasela uses photography, photocopy transfers, silkscreening and handicraft to explore collective and personal memory. Her choice of 'raw' (unprocessed) fabrics like calico, set against the highly worked quality of lace have, for her, strong ties to colonialism. The labour-intensive process of handstitching is her way of inscribing herself into this past she wishes to explore, as well as attempting to elevate her chosen imagery into a realm of the cherished and respected.
During her stay as an artist-in-residence with her three-year-old son in the Autumn of 2002, Senzeni Marasela participated in ‘Upstream’, an exhibition organized to commemorate the founding of the Dutch East India Company 400 years ago. Marasela released three hundred bottles stuffed with handkerchiefs into the pond of the Hortus Botanicus. The handkerchiefs were embroiderd with personal messages and statements from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee.