I was told that my mother threw me away like a dog – I’ve never stopped believing that.

My sister was three when my mom left. My father joined the South African Army, and I was legally written off. Adopted. Bereft of love.

Somewhere you get lost. You find yourself in situations of instability driven by post-apartheid society, religion, and child welfare. Trying to grow up as a solid human amid the neglect. Afflicted by ancestry and heredity.

“Hond” (Afrikaans for “dog”) explores my personal journey with generational trauma. Questioning the perspective that we are a possible version of ourselves due to the human consequences of our environment, my work deals with self-identity and the disruptiveness in our humanity. There is beauty regardless of the devastation. Endings and beginnings, balance and imbalance. The “in-betweenness” that forms a collective memory.

Abuse isn’t poetic, and neither was being raised as an Afrikaner girl.

Bio: Nadia Ettwein (b.1984) is a contemporary lens-based artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. With a degree in Information Science, she transitioned into photography as a means of creating and preserving her own narratives.
Ettwein’s work is an introspective exploration of social issues, personal identity, and domesticity in South Africa. Through her works, she both authors and witnesses the individuality and diversity of womanhood. Ettwein has recently been named a winner of the CAP 2023 award and shortlisted for the PhMuseum 2023 Woman Photographers grant. She was also a finalist for the 2023 Gomma grant.
Resonating with the complexities of the human experience, Ettwein reflects on her own identity and experiences with abuse. She continues to work on projects across analogue, digital, and printed mediums.