The Roots (2021)

The Roots (2021)

An offer from work to relocate to Spain has been plaguing me and my husband’s conscience since 2018. Questioning whether relocation is the best option seemed a burdensome topic, but the start of the deadly coronavirus outbreak proved that our decision to relocate or not to relocate would be intensely difficult and would not come without sacrifice. The threat of displacement, not displacement itself, has impacted my life and the lives of my family members. Torn between prioritising work or family, anxiety, and tension builds, manifesting in different disguises.

The Roots (2021) stop motion animation video depicts a never-ending nightmare: waking up terrified, going back to sleep, and finding yourself in the exact same dream. The opening scene of the video shows a territorial pet scaring off the neighbour’s cat, who is then playfully attacked by its brother. The light-hearted moment ends when the cats disappear and the video jumps to the next scene where a woman wakes up gasping from a nightmare. The disappearance of figures who are having ordinary moments continues throughout the video and is always followed by the woman waking up from her nightmare. These scenes speak about the fear of losing family members: by emigration or to the deadly coronavirus. Family rituals, relationships, and traditions will be lost if emigration proceeds or if the coronavirus snatches someone close to heart.

Mid video, a hand snaps its fingers and releases eerie figures that climb onto the roof of the family home. The ‘terror figures’ sneak up on members of the family without being seen but leave traces of themselves on the floor. They also rearrange the bedroom of the couple who are to emigrate. These figures symbolise fear: fear of the coronavirus, fear of living in a different country far away from family, fear of being regrettably absent when support is needed. This terror (and the coronavirus) is ever-present but not always noticeable. It brings dread of the future, like moving into an unfamiliar bedroom in a different country.

The Roots (2021) explores displacement anxiety: to emigrate from one’s home country leaving family behind during this unprecedented time or not to. This project considers the reasons why one would decide against relocating to seemingly greener pastures and attempts to dissolve anxiety over indecision by weighing all options. Ultimately, The Roots (2021) has given me confidence in my decision not to emigrate, grounding my roots firmly in my country, South Africa, with all that is meaningful and dear to me.

Creative work: Product design (video animation)

Details of work

Title: The Roots (2021)

Country: South Africa

Author:  Rebecca Botha

Affiliation: University of South Africa (UNISA)

Bio: As a young girl, Rebecca was fascinated by her hands’ ability to create. She was always found experimenting with oil paint and clay, building houses and trains for her and her sister’s dolls, and daydreaming in the garden. In Grade 11, she swapped biology for visual arts and often received the highest marks in her grade.

Still not accepting artmaking as a vital part of her essence, she started studying Human Resources at UNISA in 2014. In 2016, the urge to pursue her passion could no longer be contained and she changed her degree to Bachelor of Arts in Visual Multimedia Arts. Rebecca has one subject left to complete in 2022 before receiving her degree.

While studying at UNISA, Rebecca worked as a data analyst at TomTom, a Dutch multinational developer of location technology. Rebecca and her husband received an offer to relocate to Spain in 2018. After years of uncertainty, they declined the offer and decided to remain in South Africa with those that are dear to them. This experience has influenced Rebecca’s artmaking, particularly her stop motion animation video, TheRoots(2021).

Rebecca currently works at Totai (Gas Industry Services) as a marketing coordinator, happily designing marketing material, the company newsletter, and conducting some data analysis. Rebecca’s best-loved artmaking medium is stop motion animation video(The Roots is her seventh stop motion animation video)while oil painting remains a close competitor.


October 11, 2021


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