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.