- Virginie Rebetez, Untitled #13, Under Cover, 2013
- Virginie Rebetez, Untitled #4, Under Cover, 2013
- Virginie Rebetez, Untitled #5, Under Cover, 2013
Photographers selection 2014
Virginie Rebetez questions the matter of individual/collective identity and memory. She tells: "I am particularly interested in the space between disappearance and oblivion, where the individual identity slowly changes shape. Entering this increasingly blurred and formless territory, I appropriate its contents: disappearing fragments of life and disinherited identities or memories. By my personal implication in the images, either physically or through different kinds of intervention, I question our concepts of identity and memory as well as our relationship towards death".
This work was carried out in Avalon, a vast graveyard in Soweto (South Africa). The photographer turned her lens towards intriguing tombstones covered in different kinds of materials, thus concealing the identity of the deceased. Traditionally, the tombstone veiling ceremony is one of several funeral rituals. When the tombstone is placed, it is immediately covered with fabric for a period of time extending from weeks to years, until the important unveiling ceremony. As its name indicates, this is a ceremony when the family uncovers and reveals the tombstone – no longer to honour the memory of the deceased, but to celebrate his life after death.
In decontextualizing the tombstones on a black background, our vision on their status is transformed; they become sculptures, silenced characters, imprisoned statues, frozen in time as they await their revelation to the public as well as their relatives’ acceptance of their evident condition in death.
As they become portraits, the details of the veiling elements can be seen as hints for the discovery of these hidden identities, which in a sense become generic.
Virginie Rebetez studied photography at Ecole supérieure de photographie, Vevey, Switzerland and at Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her work has been exhibited in 2013 at Photoforum PasquArt in Bienne, at the gallery Focale in Nyon, and within the context of Arts on Main in Johannesburg, Nuit des images at musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne and at Festival Circulation(s) in Paris.