Installation view at the 'Disrupt' exhibition (2021) at Spier Arts Trust, Union House, Cape Town.

Artist statement


Cut, Gash 

specifically : a wound made especially in surgery by incising the body

The suspended installation ‘Incision’ is a continuation of my investigation of the motif of the boat and the meanings it generates in the context of displacement. Having conducted an academic study on the effects of displacement on the psyche, I am interested in how the boat, as a means of displacement, can be a metaphor for the traumatic experience of loss. 


Travelling over water, which is a symbol of the unconscious, a boat has connotations of a safe container transporting the psyche over the treacherous waters of the unknown. However, the boats that I am creating in my art practice are all rendered impotent through their brokenness. This is also apparent in ‘Incision’, a severed canoe partially filled with Eucalyptus bark and mutton cloth fabric. 


The intention with ‘Incision’ is to examine the aftermath of loss and our efforts to heal the psychic wound left behind in the wake of traumatic experiences.

  • Incision
  • Emma Willemse
  • 2019
  • Installation
  • Found wooden boat, Eucalyptus bark, mutton cloth
  • 50 x 68 x 390 centimeters
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