As a multi-disciplinary artist, Bronwyn Katz produces installations, sculptures, videos and performances. In her installations and sculptures, she tries to put together a collective history and memory linked to the spaces and objects around them. A worn mattress is a recurring feature of her work. By emptying it out of its contents and readapting it with the various materials that make it up (off-cuts of foam rubber, whirls coming from iron bed springs), she creates what Nicoletta Michaletos (Artthrob) has described as being “ghost forms”. Depicting emptiness is a way for her to bring out the stillliving presence coming from the memory of our ancestors.
The worn mattress, as a central figure of her work, also alludes to forced movements and the current economic difficulties of a large part of the Black population of South Africa.
Bronwyn Katz thus connects the past with the present thanks to this object, while delivering a message which is quite abstract, based on a construction/deconstruction dialectic. Finally, more than any other object, this mattress also alludes to an intimate, private space, which here is on display, dissected and open for everyone to see, while still conserving a form of dignity, thanks to the precision that the artist gives to her installations.
Even though Bronwyn Katz grew up after the abolition of Apartheid, her performative videos remain influenced by the narratives told by her ancestors, as story-tellers. With vigour and grace, the artist makes use of her heritage, her body and her mother tongue of Afrikaans to offer alternative, fictionalised narratives, as a resistance to the unanimity of historical approaches.