Visual artist Limb (Tamzyn Botha) started building installations for music festivals when she was 19. “Music being my main source of inspiration, but over time (as I am untrained) I have thrown myself into situations where I have forced the evolution of my craft,” she explains. Over the years she has slowly been leaning towards a kitsch aesthetic and is now more comfortable with exploring that side of herself. She is devoted to being as honest and sincere as she can be without having to directly spell things out for her audience, and the positive feedback she has received is a recognition of this direction.
In her solo exhibition titled Of we see the kitsch aesthetic used to explore the unconscious development of the ego through the “portrayal of textural guises” representing blood, bone, skin and hair. I had an interview with Limb to find out about her artistic practice and to get an understanding of the creative process involved in putting Of together.
Share a bit about Limb. Do you take on a particular persona as Limb?
Limb is really a space in which I can be indulgent, and the persona of Limb dresses that way, expresses that way and (hopefully) lives that way.
Your artist bio states that Limb is “a visual artist whose work indulges play through video, costume, performance in the realms of DIY” – could you please unpack what this means and how this came to be the way you chose to make this what makes up the work you produce?
The mediums of video and stills are a way in which I can capture the things I make, I will always feel most comfortable using my hands. Tactile creations, things I can feel/mold and play with. DIY is truly just my way of saying collecting, merging and transforming found objects – breathing new life and personality into them (and justifying my hoarding).
Share with our readers how you came up with the name of your exhibition, Of ?
‘Of’, used to express the origin or part – really just sums up my experience and expression of it. The people and environments that make up my reality and play such intensive roles in shaping my existence and the way in which I consume/release.
Can you please share the inspiration to explore the development of the ego? How did you decide to explore this through blood, bone, skin and hair?
Blood, bone, skin and hair – the biological development of a human – is something we all naturally can grasp. I wanted to use something laymen, for people to take on the subject matter on a surface level – and within that try to sincerely explore my own ego. The unconscious development of ego are the circumstances and experiences we aren’t necessarily aware of, the peripheral components molding us that are almost unseen. Being aware of that, exploring those shadows.
The video is divided into these four elements. Could you please share your thinking and creative process with regards to conceptualizing and putting together each segment of the video?
I wanted to portray Of Blood in a very bubblegum/pop sentiment – as not to make it gruesome but rather very femme and fabulous. Although glossy and rather psychedelic, this is where the ego begins her radical transformation. Sex and addiction riddled in pink blood. The shrine is filled with glitter dicks, hairy vaginas, pink dragons and kitsch ornaments I have collected over time. Indulgently a shrine to me/of me.
Of Bone was my very personal depiction of a sort of ancestral homage, almost a camouflage of feeling with the performance melting into the background. The “H” is a message to the world and to a collarbone lover. The scene is gold, like a pedestal of desire and value.
Of Skin was my most personal, a twisted notion of laying to bed the previous “me” – polarimpala. The head of a polar bear and distorted body of an impala. I separated this character based on my first experience with race that I am aware of. At about 8 years old, we were living a scrummy apartment at the bottom of Southernwood in East London. A kid downstairs who I’d occasionally play with, made quite an impact. Her father was Nigerian and mother – a white South African. I took my barbie down to play, and she removed my white barbie head and replaced it with her black barbie doll head. That memory is vivid.
Of Hair, my final scene – the sort of “money shot” really employs the idea of the alter ego. The Isibheqe text is a message for the creator of the writing system. No set, but rather shadows of texture and the ego – and the emphasis on eventuality.
The Ego was my sculpture, and is present in each scene of the video – as she develops.
Check out the video below of Limb’s improvised performance in the Blood and Hair characters taken at the opening of ‘Limb presents Of’.
Shot by Lesedi Rudolph.
Edited by Amy Loureth.
Score / water percussion by Behr
Instant halo by Behr & Leeu
Stills images shot by Marijke Willems Photography
Makeup for video and stills by Orli Oh
‘Of’ cinematographer: Jono Kyriako
Performance Director: Pule Welch