In The Material Presence of the Past, Helen Teede reads the earth’s surface as a “text”. Finding a sense of disillusionment in what is written by humans, who are unavoidably bound to a subjective frame, she attempts to subvert the inextricable link between power and writing by seeing every mark on a surface as a kind of writing. Thus she has explored Zimbabwe’s landscape, finding writings in fossilized dinosaur footprints, the bark of trees, the ribcage of a hippopotamus, the rivulets made in sand by an evening breeze, the stones that were once a forest, or the palimpsest of a cliff-face. She traverses the boundaries between art, philosophy, literature and science, incorporating texts from these disciplines in her work and pitting them against what the earth’s surface permits us to read. In doing so, she asks the viewer to discern their own relationship with writing, mark-making, landscape and power.
- Helen Teede, Bone Book. Courtesy of the artist
- Helen Teede, 'Imaginarium of the Past (Oysters)'. Courtesy of Showcase
- Helen Teede, 'Tree of Life', Baobab Bark. Courtesy of Showcase