Reconnaissance 1900 – 1997

“The floor was awash with piles, the largest being the miscellaneous pile: a veritable Babel. I thought: this is how a life might look through things” (Siopis, 2014).

Reconnaissance (1900- 1997) was the first installation that Siopis made entirely from the objects in her personal collection.  Like the earlier projects it contained a huge accumulation of objects that would not be seen as valuable. Arranged in memorial piles on the floor of the Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, they spoke of the artist’s personal history that encompassed the history of the three generations of women in her family. Dated 1900- 1997 the work reflects the belief that a person’s memory covers a hundred years because one inherits the memories of people who come before you. It was inspired by Siopis having to sort through and pack up her mother’s life possessions. Those possessions included the objects that came down from Siopis’s grandmother carrying with them traces of time, of people’s lives and of social histories spanning several generations and continents.