In the oral tradition of the Lega - a group of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo - proverb strings play an important role. Each string carries 40-60 miniature objects, which represent a proverb and traditionally function as carriers of wisdom. The meaning of these objects is activated in social situations, told and re-told, often in a debate and discussion, by members of the community.
Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall is a project that migrates through performance, publication and exhibition to explore this past tradition and to question what it would mean to develop such an ideographic device in this age of disembodied images and communications. Real and imagined metaphors emerge through strangely familiar but clearly contemporary objects, tales and actions, creating a speculative view on what forms of knowledge can be achieved and rendered from (im)material interactions with our environment today.
The premise for this project presents us with aesthetical and ethical questions: what symbols to harvest from our contemporary jungle overgrown with Action shops and viral lifehacks? Is this a form of cultural appropriation or a starting point for a conversation?
Together with fellow-artists Esther Mugambi and Alex Zakkas, van Lamsweerde wonders to what extent our individual tales are collective and how (un)common our places in the world are. More than making sense of this world, they look for relations both mundane and mystical by examining seeds of thought, burning Doritos and other breaths of fresh unknown.
Concept and development:
Sarah van Lamsweerde
Creation and performance:
Esther Mugambi, Alex Zakkas and Sarah van Lamsweerde
Executive producer and curator:
Voice and Lega-proverb coach:
Scenography, props and dress:
Piet-Jan van Rossum
Anna Frijstein and Isis Tweepenninckx
Photography Onomatopee performance:
Fieke van Berkom
Photography Veem performance:
Ernst van Deursen
Thanks to the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen for loaning the proverb string, displayed in the exhibition.
Paper is a leaf…..is a coproduction by Veem House for Performance, Onomatopee Projects and Stichting Tre Tigri.
The project was made possible with the generous support of the Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Veem House for Performance, Stichting Stokroos, Municipality of Eindhoven and Kunstencentrum BUDA Kortrijk.
View publication here
Reviews and press:
Tijs Goldschmidt in NRC: "Use your legs and you shall eat" :
(Dutch; English version available upon request)
(Subscribers to NRC click here for full article)