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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 : anni snyman


breaking bowls

about time article
the time traveller


anni snyman

Anni Snyman





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

To Venda, Parys, Chartre and the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. No, just joking - but I have been looking for clues and meaning regarding ansisters everywhere, and in the way my creative process unfolds, I have found some in strange and unlikely places.

The bits that come to mind now, are the fact that I kept on running into my male ancestors whenever I tried to find clues about the mothers and great grandmothers that I'm trying to re-member. Most significantly, when Eugenie and I started on this journey (we believe that our respective paternal grandmothers initiated our friendship, and therefore this project, because they were best friends, and we (eugenie and i) never knew each other before our synchronistic meeting relatively late in life - It feels as if we have to complete something they started, or would have started if they could do it again.) anyway, to get back to the journey that Eugenie and I went on in obeyance of our grandmothers - the first stop that we had to make in the old Pietersburg - Polokwane, I think it is called now - in order to pick up our booking papers for a visit to Modjadji - we were absolutely amazed to find that the office was on the corner of Piet Grobler and Hans van Rensburg streets - our two paternal grandfathers. And it has continued in this vein - many of my attempts to focus on the female has only thrown the male into sharper focus, and made me aware of the need to integrate and value the male in myself and others more carefully.


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

I am very aware of the legacy of the feminist movement and the results of their actions in the world that came after them. I have no doubt that they gave their daughters a more powerful place in society. I am also aware of the price they had to pay for these freedoms, and I honour them. However, by striving for power in a paradigm prescribed by force, they too became infected by its disease. Thus where there once was a counterpoint to the monolithic destructive drive of our culture, there is now only its wasteful path. I think that 'we have come a long way baby!', yet our real task has just begun.


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?

I've become aware of their combination of fragility and amazing strength. Also - the collective voice of humanity seem to be clearer when one looks back. I find my great grand mother's voices in their menfolk as much as in their silence. I believe that they want to change something in the now, though. I feel the womb-fabric of reality that holds the world-to-be is wearing thin, as if there is some emergency, some action needed, if this baby of our collective future is to be born at all.


Why do you engage in this creative collaboration?

I feel bound by it. The collective commitment drives me through my own inner obstacles. It relieves me of choices once the process is on its way.


What are you hoping to communicate through your intended artwork?

I want to discover some questions through the making of stuff - I hope others find similar questions within it, and it pleases me when they do. I'm never sure of what the art will end up asking.


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

Listening womb, Saint series, Well of tears, Boegbreker.


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

I've learned enough to know that we can do it, and too little to know that we can't. Each step of my creative path has brought me to face something I have not been aware of, or been trying to avoid up till then. The ansister journey has been the same.


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

Learning and teaching, playing with artists and children, trying to grow, but not up.

Posted 30 June 2005,, author: Anni Snyman.


Breaking bowls

by Anni Snyman

Work on the bowl-ritual (homeopathy for a fractured world) has taken off. The variety of interpretation amazes (and delights) me. From edible bowls to growing, alive offerings, words and virtual creations, everyone has an absolutely unique and personal approach to the concept.

My own experience with the ritual so far has been one of surprise at the emotions that engulf me when I engage with it. I have broken a bowl for my grandmother on a koppie in the bend of the Vaalriver (where I got to know her years ago), close to the impact site of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. The birds kept silent for a long time, and then the piet-my-vrou called them back into song. I felt blessed and humbled - especially when collecting the shards..

Another ritual took place at the back (and to the side) of Chartes Cathedral. A moody, icy wind hung around the towers, and a lonely rosebush had one bud to offer me. I made a bowl of doillies, and set it alight. Suddenly I felt sure that this was the spot where they used to burn the witches - approximately 5 million of them over a hundred years or so all over Europe! Rage flowed through me as I watched it burn. I've never encountered a memorial or monument to these ansisters of mine - have you?

A third experience waited for me in the snow of the Rhodope mountains. Honey poured, and I felt grateful in spite of my freezing hands. The snow made me believe in the possibility of rebirth, of clean slates, of restoration.

Now there is bowl of bones waiting for me somewhere in the next week or so - I'll let you know what it brings me.

Posted January 2005, blog site, author: Anni Snyman.