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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 : participants : annali cabano-dempsey




Annali Cabano-Dempsey
W 011 489 2099,
H 011 782 7249,
467 2775.



Detail from Sacred Spiral by Annali Cabano-Dempsy.



Ansister Interview

Where has exploring the theme of 'ansisters' taken you?

Exploration of the “ansisters” theme reconfirmed an innate knowledge in me that I am not alone in the quest to understand my femaleness. The Fact that I know I have a point of reference, without actually getting intimately involved with my tribe, is encouraging. At this stage and age I am in no position to burn my bra (as Erma Bombeck said – I am between estrogen and death), I am quite happy about our new constitution and I really don’t want harbor dangerous thoughts about men in particular or general. I see myself as part of the ebb and flow of a much larger picture where my efforts, and that of my ansisters and ancestors, will carve a natural path for the women of the future – a path they will not necessarily find easier than ours, but one where they can live as proper citizens of this planet.


What are your thoughts on the world we've inherited from our ansisters?

The world we inherited from our ansisters is good. The life we live is now – not then and not tomorrow either. They were clever enough to send me information and capabilities through their energy and genes, something far more indestructible than the human form, so that I can cope with my today.


Do you feel you have a message from your predecessors? Or have you come to some insight in the process of investigating them? If so, what is it?

My predecessors were often uninformed, illiterate or boxed in by circumstances, but they had minds of their own, albeit hidden. I perceive all their messages as tiny steps, (sometimes three forward, two back) to persist in walking and climbing in an ever rising curve, harvesting wisdom on the way to wholeness.


Why do you engage in this creative collaboration?

This creative collaboration is a great opportunity to ward of the personal gremlins of “I am so alone”, or, “…am I the only one having these feelings about my gender?” I also experience a wonderful sense of sisterhood, of the natural ability of women to work together, whereas our social construct is strongly informed by aggressive opposition.


What are you hoping to communicate through your intended artwork?

My intended artwork is about female power and the obligation to hand it over to the next generation, hopefully demonstrating in this process the value of being proudly part of the female tribe


Please describe this artwork/production/play/song/series of poems that you are busy with.

This artwork deals with ancient sites/spaces and sacred vessels. We leave our marks on spaces in an almost careless manner. The sites I visited have rock engravings, of which we can make very little deductions, and porcelain and glass shards, which can be dated. When these marks were left by my ansisters, they didn’t know or care whether I will find it or not. But I did, and a new narrative is now in the making.

I use the petroglyph sites to refer to our ancient connection with Africa and the sites where I found porcelain and glass to a more recent homecoming revolution, within the last 100 years or so. The shards of former vessels used in offering food or medication, relate to the female of the tribe – feeding and caring for her loved ones and healing them when the need arises. These shards are also a metaphor for the vessel I am, meeting up on my life path with other vessels, or small portions of them. In the end it is possible to reconstruct our ancient connections to make a whole again. I will now intentionally leave my mark, my broken vessel, for future generations to find. They can use my message in a way that is proper to them, thus perpetuating a string of new narratives, for their off spring.


How has your creative journey before this project prepared you for taking part in this?

What is a creative journey? The studies, the exhibitions, the writings, and, once more, the marks we leave behind us, the milestones? My creative journey is like a puzzle – I keep on finding these little bits to fill in the puzzle. I started on this puzzle as a small child, curious about how things work, using every instinct to understand the workings of my world. I still do, and though I have become an accomplished old wolverine with fangs as long as my fingers, I still stand in renewed and childlike awe at each discovery I make, at every part that takes me closer to the whole.


Please tell us a little more about where you've been, what you've done creatively speaking.

After school, which I surprisingly enjoyed, I studied communications at Potch University. (Art was still seen in my community as a career for hippies) As journalist for a small chronicle in an industrial town, I knew I was going to loose my mind if I didn’t attend to my artistic endeavors. I therefore completed numerous informal art courses, made jewelry, hosted creativity courses and generally kept myself busy painting and writing. When my first child was born I focused on jewelry making, painting and free lance writing for a variety of publications and doing research for other people and myself. The resulting exhibitions and commissions that followed were immensely satisfying. In 1996 I was appointed as curator of the then RAU Art Gallery (presently the UJ Art Gallery), commencing one of the most creative and fulfilling stages of my life. I have been busy with a PhD for the past two years, looking at relationships between religion and tabloid media. The urge to make has been suppressed for a long time - a mother with a fulltime job, home, children and marriage to attend to, does not have that much time or creative energy left. I now no longer want to hide behind the luxury of this excuse, and as my ansisters taught me, small steps are the way to go.

Posted 19 June 2005,, author: Annali Cabano-Dempsey.