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Artwork > Ansisters
2005

well of tearslistening wombascension wishmemory shade

"Our bodies are formed from the ashes of long dead stars." - Sir James Jeans (on the formation of carbon in the universe)

The ansister constellation (August 2005, Constitution Hill) formed part of the FACE project in which we endeavour to create public therapeutic spaces, breaking away from the traditional gallery/theatre setting, allowing our art to become truly ‘interactive’, fully integrated and a healing contribution to our society. In it we explored questions around female lineage, be it biological, spiritual, intellectual or cultural.

The prevailing culture of our time is one that values the power principle almost to the exclusion of all else. Dressed up in the pretexts of money or knowledge – it colours our view of everything, including our understanding of our own nature. "Survival of the fittest" is the throw-away line that most of us have to contend with when questioning some of the unethical absurdities confronting us in too many aspects of our lives.

It is as if the concept "Survival of the fittest" has conspired to create a reality more ferocious and cruel than any ‘natural’ one before it. Even if it has only been used as an excuse for conscienceless acts, there is no doubt that our world is out of kilter, that the balance has been disturbed to such an extent that humanity seems particularly unfit to inhabit this beautiful planet. It is time to amend it to "Survival of the fit", meaning true relationship between aspects of a whole.

Traditionally it has been the female role to look after ‘the fit’, namely our relationships with each other and our environment. However, we all know how hard it is to have responsibility without power in a culture that respects only the latter. At times it feels as if we have forgotten the ways that do not revolve around power. Through ‘Ansisters’ we attempted to re-member how to be part of ‘the fit’.

Links to www.face.org.za

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Well of Tears  

Mixed media installation: Old Fort Whipping post, Concrete basin, salt, water, copper wire. Visitors were invited to add saline to the pool. Click image to view artwork.

The whipping post in the old fort is a powerful reminder of our capacity for cruelty – evoking the spirits incarcerated and tortured in this space. The salt pool with its growing crystals honours the tears of women that always accompany theses atrocities. Tears cried for their men-folk by lovers, mothers, wives and daughters through the ages of our (un)kind.

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Listening Womb  

Mixed media installation: Gauze tent suspended from the rafters, with an ossiloscope, a white noise generator, a tape recorder and prison blankets on the floor inside the space. Click image to view installation.

This installation combines the creation story of Nomkhubulwane with the phenomenon of EVP. Within the tent, visitors can attempt to hear the voices of the ansisters by entering the position of the reed: the first symbol of motherhood.

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Ascension Wish  

Installation of bones – on loan from Johan van Rooyen Taxidermists. Click image to view full installation.

The curves of the elephant pelvis are reminiscent of wings – a poignant reminder of the sacred aspect of our earthly portal.

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Memory Shade

Digital photographs printed on Fabriano. Click image to view the whole series.

Shadows captured on the suburban walls of Johannesburg. Like the proverbial ‘women’s work’, you only notice the shelter of a tree’s shadow when it is no longer available to you – as is the case in the bleak courtyards of the Old Fort. In a culture that has eroded all values but those of power and greed, qualities like compassion and care have become mere memories of shade in a glaring concrete desert.

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Posted 8 December, 2005 at www.annisnyman.co.za, author: Anni Snyman

All work is under a Creative Commons Copyright Licence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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