The Return

Performance art
Victorian dress, tree roots, Xhosa beads, chicken feathers, war medals, tribal spear, binoculars, Dutch clogs, map book
2014 - ongoing
The Return is a story that follows Burchell's fictional character called Nelly as she embarks on an expedition through imagined, liminal, and often desolate spaces. Crowned by roots and laden with a cross-cultural costume, her apparel explores the multicultural uniqueness of South African heritage. Her search is for a transcultural sense of belonging; a culture that is inclusive of all cultures but still honors the uniqueness of the parts that constitute it. As the outside world influences her internal one, elements arise and dissipate around her.

The performance explores the idea of culture as not one definable thing based on one race or religion, but rather the result of multiple factors that change as the world changes. It looks towards finding elements of wholeness in a postcolonial, post Apartheid South Africa.
“The character Nelly is named after my grandmother who immigrated to South Africa from Holland to escape starvation during WWII. I am the second generation to be born South African through her legacy. Through this performance I look back into memory, legacy and heritage in order to search for a place of belonging as a South African with mixed cultural heritage from the perspective of a colonial descendent. I look into my own story as a microcosm of a greater zeitgeist that exists in the minds and hearts of all South Africans as we grapple with our cultural mosaic.”

Photographic and video collaboration with David De Gasperi.