There is a strong correlation between history, memory, place, and the language we use to describe it. Ellyn Pretorius’s work investigates alternate histories and how collage and abstraction can be recontextualised into meaningful explorations. The exciting part of investigating places we occupy- whether it be our own bodies or buildings- is that as an artist she can work outside of an absolute certainty.
In her graduate body of work, Pretorius is exploring solastalgia and the fragmentation of place-based memory through the creation of parafictional architectural constructs. Solastalgia refers to psychological distress caused by changes to either one’s immediate environment or the world. The series of drypoint intaglio prints illustrate a solastalgic narrative where the cityscapes become increasingly fragmented, and our memories attempt to fill in the blanks. Our attempts to fill the voids- which she represents as negative space in my prints- creates parafictions: believable lived experiences where fact and fiction harmoniously overlap.
The box collections depict unearthed treasures, echoing the theme of solastalgia. Pretorius is interested in the reminders we keep of places as it used to be. This series was designed to function as fictional archaeological discoveries: small jewels concealed within minimalist surprise boxes and simple box frames. Photographs were collected of nature rebelling against human presence; whether it be weeds growing from cracks in the concrete or beauty in its stages of decay. The etching process immutably captures a moment in danger of being eradicated.
Capturing the beauty of decay as well as creating parafiction is a personal reflection on the solastalgic distress Pretorius experience when she sees changes in her environment. How we hold onto and preserve our tangible and intangible place-based memories is integral to the history of our civilisation.