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Ansisters Event August 2005


Detail from the performance 'Patterns Outside My Head' by Janine Lewis, Rantebeng Makapan and Bonisile Nxumalo. As part of the FACE Ansisters 2005 event, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

Copyright © FACE 2005.
All rights reserved.

studio : backstage : bowl ritual

Art Ritual
Wole Soyinka

Documentation and writing


Central installation proposal for the ‘Ansister’- constellation

There has been a tremendous response to the idea of the ansister constellation. Thanks for being part of it - I am sure that we will learn a lot and find moments of wonderful insight through this process. Perhaps even shift something in the way the world works.

We felt that the constellation needed a central artwork that would have sufficient meaning to bring context to the entire work, as well as provide a platform where all collaborators can participate, thus initiating friendships and points of reference which will assist us in creating our own interpretations and contributions to the event.

Work on the bowl-ritual has taken off, please go and read these feedback accounts.

Deadline: 15 April 2005.



For a fractured/disenchanted/dis-eased/distressed world

For the sake of this constellation, we choose to recognise power as a ‘male’ energy, even though it is obviously not restricted to maleness or men. Nor has its victims been - not even remotely - exclusively female. (Even though many would like to argue that the numbers seem to point overwhelmingly in that direction. Thereby sweeping us up into yet another confrontation that distracts us from the task at hand.) Which is: to look for ways to honour that which we have forgotten…*

In other words: To find a remedy for our planetary condition of fatal power-poisoning.

Most of our world’s distressing symptoms are related to violent exploitation of and cruelty towards the weaker, the less aggressive, not even stopping at destroying the very earth that envelops and nurtures us. Again, for the sake of our constellation, we choose to recognise this ‘other’ entity that seems to be the object that the ‘powerful’ need to annihilate, as female.*

* Please see welcome and theme menu items and for more about the ‘ansister’ theme.

A particularly perplexing element of any power dialogue, if one chooses to enter into it, is that it becomes a wrestling – not only over power (once again), but also within the power paradigm – reinforcing its status as the one and only energy worth everything (and it means to have everything) on earth. It is impossible to ‘win’ a struggle against power itself, because it feeds on such struggles, blinding us to any alternative beyond itself and its own (mainly forceful) means. (Like fighting for peace…)

Homeopathic remedies work on the basis that a little (minute!) amount of what makes you ill (or of another substance that has the same symptomatic properties) will also be the thing to make you well. We see the same principle at work in mainstream medicine when we consider vaccinations or antidotes.

Therefore, if we’re looking for a remedy, symbolically speaking, we would have to apply a very diluted bit of this destructive behaviour to the planet, at the right intervals and doses, in order to awaken its (and our own) balancing defences.

Although it is very hard to define the essence of femaleness, or to find a suitable symbol for a complex group of qualities that would take years to debate and lifetimes to agree upon – it seems almost universal to associate vessels of all sorts with this mysterious energy. However, it is not the vessel itself, but it’s holding shape, the void, that defines its magic. Like a portal, or the proverbial ‘woman’s work’ – it is only noticed when it is not there.

So we have devised this basic remedy – to be applied all over the earth by as many of us that are concerned as often as we deem necessary:


Artual (Art+ritual) remedy

• Please document your process in whatever medium and to the extent that you wish.
• Somewhere between (and around) Christmas and Easter:
• Take (make/alter/create) two ‘identical’ bowls. Endow them with meaning.
• Fill one with beauty, bounty, sacrificial substance
• Take it to a place of spirit, sacredness.
• (Where you find communion, an exalted sense of union with the universe / mystery / earth / unknown / forgotten...)
• Devise your own ansister honouring ritual (if you wish)
• Overturn the bowl with the beautiful bounty. Break it.
• Take a picture of the evidence.
• Collect all the shards. Place them in the other bowl.
• Keep it (picture(s), documentation, bowl and shards) safe for the installation.
• Bring/send the picture (with as much context as you wish to add) to the April meeting, where we can all look for synchronicity, pattern, beauty, rhythm or understanding in the collection of evidence, discuss, dream and find the form that the installation is going to take.


Wole Soyinka

A bit of synchronicity - after writing the installation proposal, I found this excerpt in a book by Wole Soyinka - Climate of Fear. It seemed to echo many of the thoughts that have been spilling around us in the ansister-process. Especially the bit about 'shards welding into a new vessel' seemed as if we could maybe go there..

"…evoked for me, memories of our own visit two years earlier, one that culminated in a magical night of poetry and music that welled into the euphoria of sheer human solidarity in that ancient theatre of Ramallah.

The letter was not all, however, about that conjured space of the transcendental, when all things seem possible because of a collective immersion in an artistic experience, leading to a rare glimpse of the oneness of our universe – ‘Everything is linked,’ said an enraptured Barenboim on stage; everyone is linked, all our actions have ramifications, and music is a teacher of this inter-connected reality.'’

There was, however, in the letter a mundane, prosaic footnote that nibbled at the very edges of possible understanding, since understanding must always be preceded by human curiosity. Perhaps it will vanish in the charged space between one suicide bomber and the next military bulldozer that buries human beings alive within the imagined security of their own homes; perhaps it will join other shards of recollected moments of curiosity and discovery, to weld into a vessel of receptivity and response.

No matter, here it is, and most especially for the edification of that recalcitrant lobby, frozen in time, locked in negative memory, whose responses to this series sadly indicate that they cannot yet commence the journey of curiosity across a dividing wall."

Posted November 2004, Ansisters website, author: Anni Snyman.