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All art is personal, or at least, all good art is personal. A good artist has the ability to expose his or her own vulnerabilities, and if a piece can push beyond its own boundaries the effect on the viewer can be immense.

One exceptional fine artist from Cape Town, currently completing her Master’s degree, already has the world at her feet, with her latest visual and audio installation exposing the extreme intimacies of her own life.

Marguerite Kirsten recently took top honours in the 2018 Absa L’Atelier awards for her installation Embodiment. It is deeply personal piece of her own, ailing physical being.

“Embodiment discusses my experience with my own diseased body, I grew up with a lot of problems with my kidney and bladder. It was an all-consuming issue throughout my life. I felt like instead of hiding it and not speaking about it, I’d rather discuss it through my passion, which is art.”

Embodiment represents various fluids that signify the ephemeral nature of her body, it strengthens and dignifies her body in the face of the perceived objectification she has felt her entire life. It took on another meaning when her sister fell ill with leukaemia.

Artists throughout history have used their own body as inspiration, Frida Kahlo lived in pain for most of her life, and used her broken body to create some of the most iconic pieces of the 20th century. Marguerite says her own struggle with disease inspired her to become an installation artist, to deconstruct her illness through art.

Absa L’Atelier has been shining a light on promising young African artists’ work for over 33 years. In addition to a R330 000 cash prize, Marguerite also now has the opportunity to do a six month residency in Paris, where she can produce a full body of work.

Embodiment can be seen, alongside all the other Absa L’Atelier finalists, at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg until 26 October.

Liesl (1)

Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile 90.4FM New