Maryke Van Rensburg


Between the dreams of night and day there is not so great a difference.
— Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious

Conflict between conscious and unconscious  (2013)

  • Ink drawing, digital photography
  • Epson cold press, archival
  • 420 x 297 cm
  • The work consists of two 2,1m panels

Here I investigate my own unconsciousness, showing the struggle we face in discovering our core outlooks and emotions, looking to Jung and Freud’s theories for inspiration on the unconscious. Is it truly beneficial to know all our suppressed thoughts - is there not a reason for keeping them in our unconscious mind?

Jung refers to unconscious as ‘the shadow’ and our conscious as ‘the self’. He believes that ‘the shadow’ harbours oppressed feelings that we keep to ourselves, and that everyone carries a ‘shadow’. The less this ‘shadow’ is embodied in the individual’s life, the blacker and denser it is. The unconscious has a strong influence on our everyday life, used as a defense mechanism in the form of denial, repression and projection in order to deal with the threat of ‘the shadow’.

‘The shadow’ is hard to analyze because it is connected with feelings of guilt, unworthiness, fear of abandonment and rejection. Freud believed that self-accusation and punishment were also a part of the unconsciousness.

I investigated this subject by going to a specialist in the unconscious mind and also by referring to my own unconsciousness through dreams and memories (which Jung believed ‘the shadow’ will usually present itself through).

In my series the drawings relate predominantly to ‘the shadow’ and the struggle we unintentionally have with our unconsciousness.