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Apograph: a copy or transcript

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[S]acrifice deals with the riddle of life and death, which are intimately linked and at the same time each other’s absolute denial. The riddle cannot be resolved, it can only be re-enacted. (J.C. Heesterman, The Broken World of Sacrifice)

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In loving memory of my father, much missed.


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Pippa Skotnes

B o o k o f Iterations Lamb of God Book of Blood and Milk, Book of Speaking in Tongues, Book of the Divine Consolation Book of Loss: A.P.H.A.S.I.A, A.N.O.M.I.A, A.L.E.X.I.A

Book of Mysteries In My Father’s House Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary Prayer to St. Rita Twenty-one Mysteries of Light with On Real Presence Stephen Greenblatt and A Miraculous History of the Book Isabel Hofmeyr

P.S. The Story of Hercules Notes References

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The bird is dead That we have made so much on

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Real Presence In 1993 I found myself in the Cape Town magistrates’ court, sued under the Legal Deposit Act by the South African Library, for a copy of a book I had made in 1991 which contained within it a number of original prints. On one of the days of the case during a testing discussion about the discipline of printmaking the attorney for the plaintiff battled to come to terms with the idea of an ‘original’ print. How, he argued, can a print – an etching or a lithograph – be ‘original’ when there is more than one of them? And if you can make exact copies of these ‘original’ prints, how then could you tell the difference between the original and the copy? This discussion went on for several hours, but my answer was essentially this: no matter how many prints there are in an edition, in the case of the original print, the artwork originates with the print itself, it not being a copy of anything – and in order to attest to this originality the artist will sign and number the prints. His response was to come up with a hypothetical case: what if, he suggested, someone were to maliciously rub out all the signatures and the numbers on the prints. Would the prints still be ‘original’ and if they were, how would you know that they were not copies or fakes. I replied that they would still be whatever they once were – originals or copies, but you would no longer be sure of their real identity. By way of analogy I gave this example: imagine a wafer has blown out of the window of a Catholic church and was found lying on the ground outside. It could be the flesh of Christ, or it could be mere flour and water. How could you tell? The wafer as flour and water has precisely the same appearance as the wafer as flesh, yet prior to and after the transubstantiating ceremony of the Eucharist the wafer is, for Catholics at least, two ontologically different things.

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The lawyer was still baffled. Something, he insisted, that had many copies, must be copying something. The copper plate then, he suggested, was the original, the prints were copies of the copper plate. But, I argued, to say that something was a copy of something else was surely to say that it had, at least, a passing resemblance to it. Yet the copper plate did not look at all like a sheet of paper and could by no stretch of the imagination be deemed a copy of it. And so the argument went on. Eventually I proposed that he might like to think of the etching as a copy of the image I had in my mind. Yes, indeed, he alighted on this possibility as a way of proving his point, it must be a copy of that. Only, of course, this was not a useful line to pursue, since like the wafer blown out of the church, you could never tell just by looking at it, and so could certainly not rely on this to win a court case. This particular court-room drama was to play itself out over the next few years, but it was for me more than just a battle of wills. At the heart of this court case was a desire to defend my own sense of what constituted an artwork, how it originated and how it was, as an object, capable of being precisely what it did not appear to be. These issues were at the centre of many debates I had with Malcolm Payne, my co-founder of the Axeage Private Press when I was first employed at the University of Cape Town as a lecturer. At that time, in the early 90s, while openly celebrating the whole of culture as a text, we were nevertheless privately trying to articulate a sense of the work of art as separate, indeed as something ‘real’ – something that was not just about

symbolism but which, like the wafer turned flesh, escaped symbolism altogether. We tried to argue that an artwork, to qualify as such, had to produce a residue, had to distil out of its various component parts a kind of alcohol which was intoxicating precisely because it did not form part of the set of components that made up its original mix. We were also committed to exposing what we saw as the failure of language – in suggesting that where language depended on symbolism and metaphor, art in the form of the visual did not. The art object was capable of being precisely what it did not appear to be. It had, like the flesh in the wafer, what Catholics call Real Presence.

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Skotnes, P. and Payne, M. 1995. The art of the curator: exhibiting art in contemporary South Africa. Social Dynamics 21 (1): 83-95.

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Some of the discussion at this time focussed on the change objects underwent when they were moved from one context to another, one space of display to another, be those contexts and spaces either cultural ones, or temporal ones, or governed by the differing attitudes and expectations brought to bear on them by their different viewers. At the centre of our interest was the relationship between the symbolic nature of text and its opposite that we felt resided somewhere in the artwork. An opposite which, we nevertheless asserted, gave rise to a rich symbolic spectrum. Our Axeage Press projects were designed to intervene in that play between text and the visual and exploit the circulation of meaning revealed by shifts of context. The first couple of Axeage exhibitions curated, one of mine at the South African Museum and one of Malcolm's at the National Gallery, were intended to subject a variety of objects and representations to the pressure of new interpretation and simultaneously to liberate them from their originating impulses (Skotnes & Payne 1995). These objects included notebooks and pictures, photographs and archaeological artefacts, even shopping trollies. It was not that we were creating art from found objects – rather

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not always doing this, but we were asserting that the spaces between the labels and the objects, between the object's initially recognisable meaning and its new context, were the spaces in which the artwork was coming into being. In the case of Malcolm Payne's Face Value project in which he curated the Lydenburg heads into an installation at the SA National Gallery, the introduction of a set of supermarket trollies into the exhibit was not about turning banal objects into art works, it was rather, in part, an act of calling into being the viewers' desire to shop for meaning. That calling into being was a way of turning space itself into art where the act of curatorship (like the ceremony of the Eucharist) was the agent by which this transforming process took place. In my own work, this space was often charged with the conflicting resonance of different sets of images and ideas. Sound from the thinking strings, the book at the centre of the South African Library litigation, depended, as an art object, on this resonance in these spaces. Exhibitions which came later, such as Miscast, drew their emotional register from similar spaces, and my recent work appears to inhabit a space which relies on the simultaneous presence of images of violence and death on the one


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hand, and resurrection and redemption on the other. All the while I have been concerned to understand what it is, after all the component parts of an artwork have been accounted for, in that space inhabited by both the resonance of the objects and the projected desires of the viewer, that escapes description – in a sense the indescribable or the Real Presence. This idea of the power of Real Presence, and indeed the power of art, is at the heart of this essay and I want to recount some of how I came to thinking about it through my reading of the 19th century Bleek and Lloyd Archive of |xam narratives and how, through immersing myself in the strangeness and labile world of San thought, I rediscovered the strangeness of my own traditions as the daughter of a Catholic mother and an artist father.

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But I want to start with the second part of this and return, for a bit, to the Real Presence in the Eucharistic wafer and the origins of my interest in it at the convent school I attended. This was the Convent of the Holy Family comprised largely of Irish and Polish nuns and situated in a magnificent Victorian building on Oxford Road in Johannesburg. Attached to the convent was a chapel and a retirement wing for older nuns no longer teaching or serving the community in other ways. These nuns were a source of many stories both about their favourite saints and about their own, often deeply touching, life histories. Some of them had been in the convent since their early teens, more or less abandoned by their parents and they still wore the traditional black and white habits with highly starched veils and hoods. Others who joined as adults had been disappointed in love, one having lost a fiancé in the First World War. At the centre of this convent, and the lives of the nuns who inhabited it, was a curious paradox, not lost to us even as teenage girls. On the one hand there was an all-consuming devotion to Mary the mother of God and her perpetual virginity, and on the other was a mystical yet powerfully physical union with Christ through the ingesting of the sacrificial flesh of the Eucharist. For Catholics, the Eucharist is not symbolic – the wafer literally transubstantiates – its own substance being miraculously expelled and replaced with the very flesh of Christ, all the while retaining its outward appearance. Catholics literally eat God – made mercifully palatable by his appearing and tasting like a wafer – and his body becomes mingled with the blood and guts of the communicant. This is a fusion of two beings, one mortal and one immortal – in Catholic terms facilitating the "cleansing with its purifying flame [of] the smallest stains which adhere to the soul", but it is also a marriage of flesh with flesh (New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia).

A long tradition of devotion to the Eucharist and the almost erotic presence of Christ in the flesh in the world has been nourished by centuries of saintly visions, debates, arguments, scandals and even wars. A multitude of stories of miracles and devotions prior to and particularly during the Reformation were associated with the wafer and the Flesh and Blood of Christ. This was not confined to women – the 16th century St. Philip Neri, a not uncommon example, was reported as having been so obsessed with the Eucharistic Blood that he was seen to suck and lick the chalice with such relish that he had consumed not only the gilding but the silver as well, leaving his teeth marks in the metal. Women, however, were more often to describe their relationship to the Blood and Flesh in powerfully erotic and personal terms.

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Christ's blood and flesh were depicted as food, as nourishment for the soul and the body. In late Medieval texts devotees would talk about drinking milk from the breasts of Christ, sucking the blood from his wounds, eating him, doing with him what they will, going into his entrails, kissing him deeply, being covered in his blood (Bynum 1992:190). St. Catherine of Siena, for example, had periods of eating little but the Eucharist, stating that blood was her only satisfaction, and she wore on her marriage finger a ring made of the circumcised flesh of the baby Jesus. Desire, and perhaps the greatest desire of all – that to go on living beyond the grave – was embodied in this thin wafer. Bynum, C.W. 1992. Fragmentation and redemption: essays in gender and the human body in Medieval religion. New York: Zone Books.

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At a convent in the late 20th century these experiences were seldom described in this way – though this would hardly have been likely in the presence of young impressionable girls – but the blend of bloody, erotic and obsessive devotion to the Body, through which one could share in the lives of the saints, alongside an almost irreconcilable commitment to chastity and spirit, was robustly and obviously present in our morning catechism classes. The lives of the saints and their feasts, celebrated each day, were a favoured theme. Martyrdoms covered decapitation, roasting over coals, slow dismemberment of the body, gruesome extractions of body parts, prevailing and forbearing in the presence of nightmarish torture. Murdered virgins were known to have carried their own severed heads into their graves. Eyes gouged out could see, bodies, shredded with metal rakes and thrown into the ocean, would rise above the waves and walk on the water. These stories were complemented by the tales of saints whose corpses had survived the grave uncorrupted and smelled of the sweetest perfume many years after death, the perfectly preserved body of St. Bernadette of Lourdes featuring frequently. At the same time, physical depravation and privations were exercised as a route to spiritual perfection and the consumption of the host led to periods of experiencing the body as something other than what it was. For Catholics, through the doctrine of the Real Presence, bodily excess and denial are celebrated simultaneously, time collapses, bringing the communicant to the very feet of Christ as the past is projected right into the present. The physical laws of nature are suspended. More than this, the communicant is offered a deeply carnal relationship with God – a sharing in the physical sacrifice of flesh and its resurrection – a relationship in which there is not just a physical union but also a blending and embedding of one body within another.


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Bleek, W.H.I. 1873. Report of Dr Bleek concerning his researches into the Bushman language and customs, presented to the Honourable the House of Assembly by command of His Excellency the Governor. Cape Town: House of Assembly. Bleek, W.H.I. 1875. Second report concerning Bushman researches, with a short account of Bushman folk-lore, presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of His Excellency the Governor. Cape Town: Saul Solomon & Co. Lloyd, L.C. 1889. A short account of further Bushman material collected. Third report concerning Bushman researches, presented to both Houses of the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope, by command of His Excellency the Governor. London: David Nutt. Bleek, W.H.I. and Lloyd, L.C. 1911. Specimens of Bushmen folklore. London: George Allen.

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*** This idea of Real Presence, the integration of different bodies and the implied detachment from the laws of nature that such a perception of matter permits, characterises, though I did not initially see it this way, the |xam narratives collected by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd in the 19th century. I first became interested in these when I was working in the Archaeology Department at UCT in the 1980s on a rock art project. The Bleek and Lloyd Archive is the richest source of indigenous lore we have from the colonial period, and one of the few ways in which rock art scholars are able to access San thought from a period when painting traditions were still alive, or only just dying out. Bleek was a linguist and Lloyd a school teacher and together they developed a method of recording the |xam narratives which they then translated into English. Their teachers were mainly prisoners, arrested for stock theft or culpable homicide who were released into their custody and who lived with them in Mowbray in Cape Town (Bleek 1873, 1875, Lloyd 1889, Bleek and Lloyd 1911). The result was more than 13 000 pages of interviews, hundreds of watercolours, drawings and photographs, home-made musical instruments and sculptures. The collection belongs mostly to the University of Cape Town, with some components at the South African Museum and the National Library. The connection between the doctrine of the Real Presence and the ideas of the |xam embodied in their narratives is, perhaps, not immediately evident. These narratives do not indicate a central religious ritual nor, indeed, a structured set of ritual practices. Rather their religious experiences, or those we tend to define as such, were often eccentric, protean, contradictory and pervasive throughout lived experience. They were diffused through time and space. Yet for the |xam the contraction of time implied in many of the narratives and the perception of a continuous present is just as powerfully an encounter with the Real as is the ceremony of the Eucharist. In |xam thought, time and history are inextricably bound up with space. Early, mythical times are alive in the here and now. Narratives reside in the landscape like palpable things. More significantly, the experience of the Real is the experience of things that are, like the host, precisely what they do not appear to be.


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35 One of the oldest storytellers to work with Bleek and Lloyd, ||kabbo, tried, through many of his narratives, to describe this presence of the Real. There were clearly all sorts of problems he encountered. Telling his stories across a writing desk, waiting patiently for the words to be written down, editing out his more ribald or scatological insights as a mark of respect for the sensitivities of an unmarried Victorian daughter of an Anglican minister, and living in an atmosphere of European scholarship in which ambiguity of thought and deliberate contradictions were not easily understood, were experiences very different from the performed vitality of storytelling in his own community. Yet the ambiguity, the knowledge of things being what they do not appear to be is evident in many of his accounts. He was, for a start, described as a man who had magic, a mantis man and rainmaker, and his was a home where men could become jackals.


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In ||kabbo's world there once existed an Early Time, a First Order in which things were different from how they then became. Animals were people, or almost people. Some had characteristics that were very close to those of the animals whose names they bore, others defied easy categorisation. People were people without the customs they later developed when things changed. The landscape of the Early Time was a landscape populated by strange and mercurial creatures, part human, part animal, part neither. Sentience was resident in almost everything from the wind to the moon and the stars. Every object had conferred upon it the qualities of being alive and taking responsibility for what happened in the world. After this Early Time, animals became wild and lost their humanity, people developed laws and the forms of creatures and heavenly bodies became more stable. Yet the First Order continued to permeate the Second. The shape-shifting, changeable status of the inhabitants of the earlier world brought the past with them into the present, continuing to exert their influence, not only through the human telling of history and myth, but by their very escape from history to play a role in contemporary activities. Their influence took many forms. Young girls transgressing menarcheal taboos would be whipped up by the wind, ravaged by the rain animal and she and her family turned into frogs. Clothes and bags, sticks and whisks could be turned back into animals, trees and tails. Dead buck could transform, suddenly, into the trickster ||kaggen. Stories could float in the air.

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In the context of such an ambiguous, mutable, often capricious world and the apparent comfort with this conveyed by the |xam informants, it might seem artificial to draw an analogy with the highly structured unchanging ceremony of the Eucharist and the resulting Real Presence. Yet the perception of things not being what they seem is not a perception of ambiguity, it is not just about seeing something as one thing at one moment and as another thing at another. It is about perceiving the two simultaneously, about observing one thing and seeing another at once bound up within its differing form. Let me give an example. ||kabbo described in some of his narratives the rites of passage associated with young girls undergoing the rituals around their first menstruation. Such girls were deemed dangerous, particularly to men and their weapons and their ability to hunt, and careful taboos were observed. Beyond this they were known to have a close relationship to the rain and the rain beast, who was attracted to the presence of blood. The rain was possessive of the young women and transgressions had serious consequences. In


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one story a young girl stares (instead of averting her eyes as her condition determines she should) at a young man who has been playing his goura. This results in his transformation into a tree. Yet this is not a simple transformation from one state to another. What ||kabbo struggles to describe is the simultaneous condition of being both a tree and a person. What he conveys is a man with the appearance of a man yet the ontology of a tree. He says: The man here climbs the mountain, he plays the goura the girl looks at him as he comes, he stands fast as he comes, … the man stands… he has his legs, he has his feet, he is a man he was a man, he becomes a tree, … he has his arms, because that maiden looks at him, with the maiden eye; … and it is so, his legs are those of a man he is a tree, his arms are those of a man, he holds the goura with his mouth he is a tree, he has his eyes, because he was a man he has his head, he has his head-hair, because he is a tree which is a man, he is a man, he is a tree, he has his feet, he is shod (?), he has his nails, he has his mouth, he has his nose, he has his ears, he is a tree, because he is a man, he is a tree, … while he is a tree, he is a man, … he is a talking tree, which talked standing, for he was a man, the maiden looked at him, and it is so that he became indeed a tree; and it is so that he talks, for he was a man, and it is so that he became a tree which talked, for he was a tree


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Like the moment of transubstantiation in the ceremony of the Eucharist, time is collapsed, bodies are merged, the wronged musician is at once a man and a tree, neither one being a symbol or a sign of the other, but instead a manifestation of the Real. ***

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But what does this say about art and the possibility that at its heart lies Real Presence rather than just systems of symbols and their context driven resonance? San stories are enigmatic and opaque, ambiguous and elusive. Their presence in written form represents a distortion of a practice that was dependent on performance, yet their visual counterpart, the rock art, displays a similar mobility of form and narrative. These paintings represent hybridity to be sure, they depend on symbolism and cultural signs, yet they also act to create space that is real and not emblematic, a space in which, like the space of the ceremony of the Eucharist, those inhabiting it can experience themselves and their bodies as something other than what they are. |xam narratives take interior states, emotions, ideas and memories and project them onto the material world. The wind was known to have once been a man, the rain to have been a beast, since then the wind and rain could be made accountable for the consequences of their blowing, creating storms, causing lightning to strike. The rock paintings embody these projections. In them, the imagined landscape of transformed and transforming creatures, of hybrids and therianthropes, of the past and of the present reciprocates by embodying memories and desires, by allowing their viewers to see their own bodies as both object and subject; as the container of an internalised image of the world and as the mirror of an external one; of being, in a sense, at once both inside and beside oneself. The paintings become the site of the consumption by the viewer of the imagined world materialised. This ability of art objects to take on the identities of their viewers by externalising and embodying their desire is, by placing the viewer simultaneously in two sites at once, I would argue, what gives art its real presence.

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Perhaps I can give one final example. In 1996 I was fortunate to visit some of the Upper Palaeolithic caves in France, including what must rate as one of the greatest painted spaces of all human history, the cave of Lascaux. Keeping this for last, we began our explorations in the Ariège where we visited the Count Bégouen who owned a complex of three caves, Enlene, Les Trois Frères and Le Tuc d'Audoubert. As a private owner of these sites, the Count had the absolute right to allow or disallow access. Enlene was subject to a programme of excavation by archaeologists from all over the world, some of whom were there for lunch on the day we arrived. Les Trois Frères has some well known paintings only occasionally visited, though it is not open to the public and Le Tuc d'Audoubert is what the French call a ‘virgin’ cave since its floor surface has been preserved intact since it was last vacated some 12 000 years ago. We had no hope of gaining access to this site since it has been very rarely visited since its discovery in 1912. However, after a fine dish of duck cassoulet and green beans and a great quantity of burgundy a flurry of excitement spread around the table, as the Count announced that he would allow his son to take those of us not too plump from overindulging (there being a narrow tunnel to slither through) into the 800 metres of the cave. We were decked out in overalls, knee pads and waterproof shoes, given torch packs and set off in the little boat down the underground river that led to the cave's entrance. Visiting these caves is both thrilling and alienating – thrilling, perhaps, partly because of the sense of alienation. As one passes through the entrance, the world outside is left behind, nothing in the experience of being inside is familiar, nothing anticipated, the context of


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contemporary France may as well not exist. The cave is pitch dark. There is no movement of air, the temperature is a constant 13 degrees. It is silent, but for the dripping of water in places and the sound of breathing and the blood in our ears. It is full of the ghosts of the very long dead. The sensation for me of moving through this cave along the narrow path we were allowed to tread was a sensation of travelling along the threads of the spine of an ancient book. Open on each side were the pages which told the story of thousands of years of visitations by humans and before them by the bears that came to hibernate for the long Ice Age winters. The hollows these had dug still held the imprints of their fur in the firm mud, and the skeletons of some who never made it through to the spring lay curled in their sleeping places. There were things that people had left behind too. A coil of the bones of a snake, a smashed bear skull from which the teeth had been extracted, lumps of clay worked through fingers, the footprints of a child who had slid from his mother’s arms down a muddy bank. Almost a kilometre into the mountainside one reaches the end of the cave. Here in a small cavern on a little mound lie the figures of two bison. They have been modelled from the clay collected from the bank of a nearby pool where the toeless footprints of the artists or later visitors who negotiated its slope on their heels, remain in the damp ground. There is nothing to prepare one for the pleasure of finding these bison lying in the silence of this space. Like the treasure at the middle of a great maze they are one's reward for the journey through dark tunnels and caverns and one's most palpable connection with the past made powerfully present. One is at once an object moving through space and a space in which is collected a multitude


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of objects. Confronting the bison is a process of seeing and simultaneously internalising an imagined image made external by its sculptor/thinker. It is a way of consuming that sculptor, a process of deep reciprocation despite the distance of time and culture and language and context. It is a moment of great arousal. It is – like eating the host or being both tree and man – inhaling the presence of something, indeed, someone else, being intimately bonded with another, being for that time not one but two beings, having not one, but two identities, each cloned one from the other. To be sure, this is not one's average experience of art. For the most we encounter it in galleries and museums, in people's homes and studios. At an art school we see it in process, talk about its shape and technique, its qualities of materiality or abstraction, its social and cultural context. Sometimes it has little power to distract us or engage us or absorb us. We do not have the advantage of always seeing it as separate from the goings on of our daily lives. Yet I would assert that the encounter with art always entails the erotic encounter with ourselves externalised and with the corresponding internalisation of another. It demands empathy. It insists on our simultaneous experience of twin identities – and through this process, an experience of Real Presence.

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Albert

Artois

I. Mysteria Gaudia 1. Quem, Virgo, concepisti. 2. Quem visitando Elisabeth portasti. 3. Quem, Virgo, genuisti. 4. Quem in templo praesentasti. 5. Quem in templo invenisti.

Da, quaesumus Dominus, ut in hora mortis nostrae Sacramentis refecti et culpis omnibus expiati, in sinum misericordiae tuae laeti suscipi mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. Da, Domine, propitius pacem in diebus nostis, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus s e m p e r l i b e r i e t a b o m n i p e r t u r b a t i o n e s e c u r i . Pe r C h r i s t u m D o m i n u m n o s t r u m . A m e n .


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Arras

II. Mysteria dolorosa 1. Qui pro nobis sanguinem sudavit. 2. Qui pro nobis flagellatus est. 3. Qui pro nobis spinis coronatus est. 4. Qui pro nobis crucem baiulavit. 5. Qui pro nobis crucifixus est.

Ypres

Actiones nostras, quaesumus Domine, aspirando praeveni et adiuvando prosequere: ut cuncta nosta oratio et operatio a te semper incipiat et per ta coepta finiatur. Per Christum Dominum n o s t r u m . A m e n . C o n f i t e o r D e o o m n i p o t e n t i , b e a t a e M a r i a e s e m p e r Vi r g i n i , b e a t o M i ch a e l i Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et vobis,


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Somme

III. Mysteria gloriosa 1. Qui resurrexit a mortuis. 2. Qui in caelum ascendit. 3. Qui Spiritum Sanctum misit. 4. Qui te assumpsit. 5. Qui te in caelis coronavit.

SALVE, Regina, mater misericordiae: vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae. Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle. Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exsilium ostende. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. Amen.

fratres (et tibi pater), quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres (et te, pater), orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum. Amen. EN EGO, o bone et dulcissime


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Tanneberg

Amiens

Iesu, ante conspectum tuum genibus me provolvo, ac maximo animi ardore te oro atque obtestor, u t m e u m i n c o r v iv i d o s f i d e i , s p e i e t c a r i t a t i s s e n s u s , a t q u e ve ra m p e c c a t o r u m m e o r u m p o e n i t e n t i a m , e a q u e e m e n d a n d i f i r m i s s i m a m vo l u n t a t e m ve l i s i m p r i m e r e ; d u m m a g n o a n i m i affectu et dolore tua quinque vulnera mecum ipse considero ac mente contemplor, illud prae


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Cambrai

Abwûn d'bwaschmâja Marne Nethkâdasch schmach Têtê malkuthach. Nehwê tzevjânach aikâna d'bwaschmâja af b'arha. Hawvlân lachma d'sûnkanân jaomâna. Waschboklân chaubên wachtahên aikâna daf chnân schwoken l'chaijabên. Wela tachlân l'nesjuna ela patzân min bischa. Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l'ahlâm almîn. Amên. oculis habens, quod iam in ore ponebat tuo David propheta de te, o bono Iesu: Foderunt manus meas et pedes meos: dinumeraverunt omnia ossa mea. Amen.


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Neuve Chapelle

Who’s for the trench— Are you, my laddie? Who’ll follow French— Will you, my laddie? Who’s fretting to begin, Who’s going out to win? And who wants to save his skin— Do you, my laddie?

Verdun


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On Pippa Skotnes’s Real Presence Stephen Greenblatt

I thought that a rainy Monday in Assisi, the day after Easter, would be a plausible time for a quiet visit. I was wrong: the Monday after Paqua is ‘Pasquetta,’ little Easter, as if in Italy the faithful were unwilling to let the resurrection simply come and go in a single day. There were thousands of pilgrims – great slow-moving rivers of umbrellas – trudging purposefully down the narrow stone lanes of the medieval town toward the Basilica of St. Francis. Though I arrived early, a long line had already formed at the doors to the Lower Basilica. On July 17, 1228, the day after the canonization of St. Francis, pope Gregory IX laid the first stone for this beautiful Romanesque church. The project was an astonishing tribute to the saint’s contemporary fame. Less than two years earlier, the forty-five year old Francis, almost completely blind, lay ill in a hermitage in Cortona. His followers decided to bring him back to Assisi, his native city. They feared that he would die in Cortona. They feared still more that on the winding road to Assisi – a journey that must have hastened the sick man’s death – he might be seized, living or dead, by the rival Perugians, eager to lay claim to the saint’s remains. For in Francis’s body, everyone understood, there resided and would continue to reside an immense holiness. In the case of Francis of Assisi this power was made vividly manifest in his most famous mark of sanctity, the stigmata. In September 1224 on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines where

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he had gone to meditate on Christ’s crucifixion, wounds opened on the saint’s hands, feet, and side. The wounds remained visible, and in some accounts continued to bleed periodically, for the rest of his life. But it was not the stigmata alone, astonishing though they were, that generated such intense rivalry to take possession of Francis’s mortal remains. For everyone understood that, after his death, the saints’ flesh, wounds and all, would almost certainly fall away, subject to what John Donne memorably calls ‘corruption and putrefaction and vermiculation.’ What inevitably would remain after decay and ‘vermiculation’ – the work of the worms – would be his bones, and those bones would continue to channel his visionary spiritual force. In principle at least, the saint’s bones could not actually be worshipped; veneration would be directed not at them but through them. Inspired by the presence of the saint’s mortal remains, the faithful would reach out in spirit toward the divine presence that had irradiated Francis’s life and had enabled him to add so richly to the great treasure-house of redemptive grace upon which Christians in need could draw. In practice, the bones themselves could seem to possess uncanny power, the power to heal the sick, to avert plagues and misfortunes, and to shorten the terrible period of torture that even souls destined for bliss would have to suffer in purgatory. If Chaucer’s wry account is to be credited, folk belief extended the healing power


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of relics to animals. ‘If that this boon be wasshe in any welle,’ says the unscrupulous pardoner, If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swell, That any worm hath ete or worm ystonge, Take water of that welle and wash his tongue, And it is hool anoon. Churches prided themselves on the possession of a saint’s tooth, a tibia, the joint of a finger: holy relics that were carefully labelled and displayed, sometimes gorgeously, in windowed containers. Any city that could claim even a small part of Francis’s remains, let alone his entire body, would possess an incalculable benefit.

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In the event, Assisi, where Francis was born, was the site of his death. But the guarding of his remains was no simple matter. The people of Assisi feared, quite rationally, that the saint’s body would be stolen at the first opportunity; broken into small fragments, each bone, or chip from a bone, would have been an immensely valuable commodity in the well-established market for holy relics. Hence his body was hidden away, not only in the immediate aftermath of his death but even after the great basilica begun in 1228 had been constructed and after a second basilica, directly above the first, had also

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been completed some thirty years later. So cunningly, in fact, were the saint’s remains concealed in the church that bears his name that they were only discovered in 1818, at which time a tomb was built in the crypt. It was to this tomb – that is, to the bones of the saint – that the flocks of pilgrims who entered the basilica on the morning of my visit were heading. In fact I discovered after a few soggy minutes in the rain outside the door that there was no wait to get into the church; the line in which I had been standing was for the crypt. Very few of the faithful, many of whom clutched rosaries and other


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67 religious talismans, gave more than a quick glance at what I – a pilgrim of a different sort – had expressly come for: the celebrated frescoes by Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, and above all Giotto that cover the walls of both the upper and lower basilicas. The division was by no means absolute: during the long wait, it was, after all, difficult to avoid looking at least at the gorgeous frescoes directly on the way to the stairs that descended into the crypt, and, conversely, there must have been lovers of the paintings who were drawn out of piety or curiosity to see the early nineteenth-century tomb. But the distinction nonetheless was unmistakable. Those who were passionately focused on the bones were decidedly less interested in the art; those who had come for the love of art had little or no interest in the bones. And this brings me to Pippa Skotnes’s remarkable achievement. Everything in Skotnes’s ‘Real Presence’ depends upon the rich tradition of Catholic piety that produced the relics around which, like fantastic pearls, the great churches were constructed. Her citations of this tradition are inventive, inexhaustible, even obsessive. Yet hers is not, in any familiar or stable sense, religious art or even a faithful simulacrum of religious art. There is, after all, a long history of fake as well as stolen relics: after all, the bones of saints have a disquieting resemblance to all other bones, and it was enormously tempting, out of greed, communal pride, ambition, or even piety, to represent the profane as the pinnacle of holiness. But something else, something very different, is occurring in Skotnes’s brilliant work.


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In these lovingly inscribed bones, in the astonishing skeletons of horses, in the whole panoply of images and objects, religious piety is transformed into an exalted, secular aesthetic, and at the same time the aesthetic is infused with the longing for healing and redemption that underlay the medieval cult of relics. I do not have an adequate account of how Skotnes managed such an extraordinary feat – I am content more simply to be grateful and to admire. But I am confident that one element is her deep awareness of the existence of other lives, other mythologies, other forms of healing and redemption that lie outside the orbit of the Catholic faith. This awareness has everything to do with her deep engagement with South Africa and, specifically, with the |xam. But I want to stay within the European tradition, and look briefly at two Renaissance texts that will help to focus what Skotnes has achieved. The first text is Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia or UrneBuriall, published in 1658. Browne, a distinguished physician, was struck by the unearthing in Norfolk of a set of pre-Christian sepulchral urns. He had no clear idea of whose burials these were or what they signified, but he became fascinated by the urns and, still more, by bones themselves. ‘Teeth, bones, and hair,’ he writes, ‘give the most lasting defiance to corruption.’ They vastly outlive, as it were, the beings they helped to form, and all burial practices reflect some concern for what will happen to them. After all, he writes in his characteristically gorgeous baroque style, ‘To be knav'd out of our graves, to have our skulls made drinking-bowls, and our bones turned into pipes, to delight and sport our enemies, are tragical abominations.’ For the living being does not simply disappear at death. Even though dead bodies fall into decay, the full form is still implicit in the bones. Physiognomy, as Browne puts it memorably, outlives ourselves: For since bones afford not only rectitude and stability but figure unto the body, it is no impossible physiognomy to


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conjecture at fleshy appendencies, and after what shape the muscles and carnous parts might hang in their full consistencies. A full-spread cariola shows a well-shaped horse behind; handsome formed skulls give some analogy of fleshy resemblance. A critical view of bones makes a good distinction of sexes. Even colour is not beyond conjecture, since it is hard to be deceived in the distinction of the Negroes' skulls. Dante's characters are to be found in skulls as well as faces. Hercules is not only known by his foot. Other parts make out their comproportions and inferences upon whole or parts. And since the dimensions of the head measure the whole body, and the figure thereof gives conjecture of the principal faculties: physiognomy outlives ourselves, and ends not in our graves. If this intense, proto-anthropological interest in bones is one of the distant precursors of Skotnes’s art, there is, I would suggest, another, even more important Renaissance precursor. ‘When my grave is broke up again/Some second guest to entertain,’ writes John Donne in his love poem ‘The Relic,’ . . . And he that digs it spies A bracelet of bright hair about the bone, Will he not let us alone, And think that there a loving couple lies, Who thought that this device might be some way To make their souls, at the last busy day, Meet at this grave, and make a little stay? Donne’s poetic conceit here depends upon the belief that at the Resurrection the body, reunited with itself, must find all of its matter: hence the lovers must meet at the last day, he to recover his bone, she her hair. But it is the haunting image – ‘A bracelet of bright hair about the bone’ – even more than the conceit, that takes us to the heart of Skotnes’s achievement. For the pivot in her work between the religious and the aesthetic is an engagement with the material objects – above all, with the bones themselves – that is erotic in its fantastic intensity.


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A Miraculous History of the Book Isabel Hofmeyr

At the centre of this exhibition stand three volumes. Each comprises a horse’s skeleton covered in hand-written texts. Both sumptuous and macabre, the skeletons – burnished in gold leaf, shod in silver shoes and fully bridled – draw us closer. The texts inscribed on the skeletons are of diverse provenance but cluster around three historical periods, namely medieval and early modern Christianity; the First and Second World Wars; and finally a group of texts, produced in the 1870s, in the now dead Bushman language |xam. Located around the three horses is a galaxy of items: boxes, reliquaries, cases of objects with textual inclusions, bridled horse skulls, and multi-media images. We approach the three skeletons and start reading. There is, however, no fixed vantage point from which to read. The contour of the bones, the direction and size of the text determine how we must choreograph ourselves. We crane and peer, swivelling our heads this way and that. How, we wonder, are we to read these skeletons, their texts and the objects that surround them? How are we to navigate the feast of comparison and the extravagance of relationality implied in the exhibition and its parts? Like any traveller unsure of where to go, we must seek directions. These are of course best sought in the texts of the exhibition themselves, since any text carries within it an implicit set of ‘instructions’ for how it wishes to be read. These instructions lie in its formal arrangement and rules of composition which will provide us with a set of guidelines for how to proceed. By heeding these, we might try to make ourselves ideal readers, to bend and tune ourselves to the imaginative address of these textual objects.

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Barthes, Roland. 1989. The rustle of language, translated by Richard Howard. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Gell, Alfred. 1998. Art and agency: an anthropological theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Chartier, Roger. 1989. Texts, printings, readings. In Hunt, Lynn (ed), The new cultural history. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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However, the question of what a text is or might be has been much debated in literary and cultural theory and much of the intellectual project of the humanities over the last half-century has been to name and capture the multivalent nature of textuality. In Barthes’ memorable phrasing, texts are objects of ‘shimmering depth’, ‘vast cultural spaces through which our person… is only one passage’, filled with the elusive ‘rustle of language’ (31). At the same time, much effort has gone into understanding texts as material objects, as commodities that circulate. To adapt the terms formulated by Alfred Gell, an anthropologist of the art object, texts as material objects are ‘temporally dispersed … moving through time and place, like a thunderstorm’ (226). Other domains, most notably studies of the history of the book have likewise explored the text as material object. As the doyen of book historians, Roger Chartier, has observed, any history of the book entails a three-fold equation: ‘the text itself, the object that conveys the text, and the act that grasps it’ (161). However, the theorists cited above have generally emerged from societies that are hopelessly literate. The everyday practice of textuality around which much theory shapes itself is consequently thoroughly institutionalised and most reading practices become uniform and regulated. As a result, reading becomes semi-invisible and decorporealised. Indeed, at one point, Barthes notes, almost plaintively ‘Reading is the gesture of the body (for of course one reads with one’s body)…‘ (36). The sentiment in parentheses could only emerge in a context where reading has become an all but disembodied practice.


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In order to capture the full richness of texts and textuality, those interested in books and reading have often turned to societies in time and space where reading is not uniformly institutionalised: to medieval societies, to colonial and postcolonial settings where the technologies of writing are explored and experimented with on the borders of, and outside formal institutions (Prinsloo and Breier; Street). These investigations have illuminated many cases where novel understandings of literacy are at work. Early African Christian converts, for example, or medieval believers for that matter acquired literacy miraculously, generally in a dream journey to heaven or from the Virgin Mary (Hofmeyr 2002). Jamaican slaves insisted on being buried clasping their communion tickets which were believed to be passports to heaven (Curtin 1955: 29, 37). In such understandings, texts circulate between heaven and earth and pose the beguiling question of what kind of audience might be brought into being by such a path of textual circulation. As books are baptized in new intellectual formations, the way they are understood is enlarged, a phenomenon we see in the metaphors used to describe books in para-literate situations. These include the book as a flag, as marriage, and as dance (Hofmeyr 2001). In these comparisons, books and their potentialities are grasped in novel and distinctive ways and our understanding of texts and their promise are commensurately expanded.

Prinsloo, Mastin and Mignonne Breier (eds). 1996. The social uses of literacy: theory and practice in contemporary South Africa. Johannesburg: SACHED/John Benjamins. Hofmeyr, Isabel. 2002. Dreams, documents and ‘fetishes’: African Christian interpretations of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Journal of Religion in Africa 32 (3): 1-17. Curtin, Philip. 1955. Two Jamaicas: the role of ideas in a tropical colony 18301865. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Hofmeyr, Isabel. 2001. Metaphorical books. Current Writing 13 (2): 100-108.


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In this exhibition which entangles so many different times and spaces, and which poses so powerfully the question of text, writing and material objects, these novel theories of text and textuality are made vivid before our eyes. If we heed the horses’ instructions, we will learn and experience a theory of the textual object which takes us beyond much contemporary thinking on the subject. We will experience texts as multimedia and multilingual portfolios which straddle the printed and the spoken, image and text, the visible and invisible world. As a whole, the exhibition maps out the imaginative boundaries of what a miraculous history of the book might look like. To explore this idea further, let us take three types of text distributed in the exhibition and heed their instructions. They are the bone book; the rosary; and the archive.


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The Bone Book

Brown, Peter. 1962. Augustine of Hippo: a biography. London: Faber & Faber.

To comprehend the bone book of the horses, we find ourselves undertaking forms of reading that are simultaneously modern, medieval and postcolonial. As modern readers we quickly recognize the bone books as tissues of quotation and as fragments of other texts. We also respond to their apparent randomness. From a distance, it looks as though the skeletons have plodded through some postmodern textual blizzard, fragments of language cleaving to them. As consumers of contemporary popular culture, we note the information that two of the skeletons were originally cart horses in Khayelitsha, the large township outside Cape Town: the ‘low’ and ‘unofficial’ has been recycled as ‘high’ culture. We smile at the textual parody of one horse which has a set of bibliographic cards suspended under its spine. But at the same time our reading must be medieval. We are, after all, contemplating the singular and handmade book, transcribed with patient dedication. Is this act of transcription, as it was for many medieval scribes, a type of prayer, a textual form that attempts to speak to other worlds? At times, we cannot read silently but must mouth a word made unfamiliar by the contour of the bone and so we come to resemble medieval monks, hunched over a codex and reading in murmurs. Again like medieval readers our senses are intensely involved: the red lettering, gold burnish and silver enchant our sight. We hear and feel the horses’ tails and the manes, made up of hair, small bones and curls of vellum. We could be in the world of Augustinian allegory and enigma in which texts speak allusively or in riddles (or in St. Augustine’s words: ‘wisdom’s way of teaching chooses to hint at how divine things should be thought of by certain images and analogies available to the senses’ [quoted in Brown 253]).

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At moments, the modern and late medieval combine. In several pieces, we encounter little ampoules, each containing a line from an essay by Stephen Greenblatt (1996) which describes some of the polemical exchanges between Catholics and Protestants in the sixteenth century and particularly those relating to the sacramental bread of the Supper of the Lord. What happens if a mouse or rat nibbles some of the consecrated host? Does he ingest the Real Body, or does he not? A copy of Greenblatt’s article has been cut into strips, goldleafed and then curled into the ampoules and distributed across the exhibition. These ampoules look as though they may contain nourishing elixirs to be consumed, reminding us of the medieval (and later) preoccupation with Christ’s body as flesh and with the idea of the Bible as a text to be ingested (‘Open thy mouth, and eat what I give you,’ God instructed Ezekiel while presenting him with a roll of text [quoted in Manguel 171]). At the same time, the ampoules spread text across a surface and point to contemporary preoccupations with the textualisation of space. Yet, at the same time, these medieval and modern practices are thrown into postcolonial relief and are reconfigured by the presence of the |xam texts and the colonial world that they imply. In a medieval context, a vernacular language would betoken newness and promise. Here the vernacular, its speakers exterminated, signals language death and the violence of colonial conclusions. If there is a rustle, it is the rustle of dried language. Yet, the colonial context also produces newness. Books and literacy, for example, are reshaped as these technologies of writing are baptized in new intellectual traditions, many of which are oral.

Greenblatt, Stephen. 1996. Remnants of the sacred in early modern England. In de Grazia, Margreta; Quilligan, Maureen and Peter Stallybrass (eds), Subject and object in Renaissance culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Manguel, Albert. 1996. A history of reading. London: Flamingo.


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This interface has constituted one theme of Skotnes’s previous work, particularly in relation to the Bushmen and the |xam, a group with whose intellectual and artistic traditions she has had a profound engagement. Her exhibition Miscast and the edited volume that accompanied it constitute, in Skotnes’ words, a ‘critical and visual exploration of the term ‘Bushman’ and the various relationships that gave rise to it’ (20). An earlier art book, Sound from the thinking strings: a visual, literary, archaeological and historical interpretation of the final years of |xam life (1991) investigates in text and image the intellectual history of |xam communities. Her two most recent books (Claim to the country [2007] and Unconquerable spirit [2008]) likewise engage with the richness of |xam thought. One major source to which she has repeatedly turned is Lucy Lloyd’s extraordinary archive of |xam narrative and philosophy. These testimonies, songs and folklore were dictated to Lloyd and her brother-inlaw Wilhelm Bleek in the 1870s in Cape Town by |xam prisoners from whom Lloyd and Bleek learned |xam. The prisoners were released into their care and over a period of several years, Lloyd and Bleek took down 13,000 pages of bilingual testimony along with drawings, instruments and objects which today comprise the Bleek and Lloyd archive, the only

substantial collection of documentation on nineteenth century Bushman life (Deacon; Hall; Skotnes, Real Presence). As Skotnes points out, these |xam testimonies constitute a complex and multivalent textuality, a feature which Lloyd understood and attempted to capture in her form of transcription which generally involved three parallel columns, one containing the |xam narrative, one being an English translation and one being a further |xam commentary on the narrative. Skotnes comments (in the edited collection of Miscast whose layout incidentally is informed by the principle inherent in Lloyd’s transcription): the stories [Lloyd] was recording were not linear, and neither was the method of measuring the time frame of their occurrence. To accommodate the qualities of these oral traditions, she would often introduce a parallel text which would run alongside the story on the left-hand page. The result was to give a new dimension to the story, to make the process of reading an active and mobile one, and to give a materialising life to the notion of ||kabbo, one of her principal informants, that stories his people told were like the winds that came from far off, and could be felt. (‘Introduction’ 23)


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Skotnes, Pippa. 1996. Introduction. In Pippa Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press. Skotnes, Pippa (ed and artist). 1991. Sound from the thinking strings: a visual, literary, archaeological and historical interpretation of the final years of |xam Life. Cape Town: Axeage Private Press. Skotnes, Pippa. 1999. Heaven’s things: a story of the |xam. Cape Town: LLAREC Series in Visual History, University of Cape Town. Skotnes, Pippa and Mark Fleishman. 2002. Stories are the wind: representing time and space in San narratives. Cape Town: LLAREC Series in Visual History, University of Cape Town. Deacon, Janette. 1996. A tale of two families: Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd and the |xam San of the Northern Cape. In Pippa Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press. Hall, Martin. 1996. The proximity of Dr Bleek’s Bushmen. In Pippa Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press.

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Skotnes continues: [The Lloyd archive] has a visual presence, and its structure requires that it be read, not as a narrative or a set of narratives, but as a complex network interweaving ideas and stories that link one with the other, that confound a sense of chronology, that throw into doubt one’s sense of time and, ultimately, one’s sense of what is real. (‘Introduction’ 23)

Bynum, Caroline Walker. 1991. Fragmentation and redemption: essays on gender and the human body in Medieval religion. New York: Zone Books.

In this exhibition, these ideas of multiple and interwoven textualities have been deepened and complicated by the |xam texts being inscribed on bone. This principle of text on bone provides an organizing principle of the exhibition and requires a range of reading strategies. Most obviously perhaps, the theme of bone highlights the preoccupation with medieval religious practice and its obsession with bodily fragmentation, relics and resurrection, or put in Caroline Walker Bynum’s terms, whether dead parts could again be made whole through redemption (1991). The description of fifteenth-century devotional painting as a form that put Christ’s body parts ‘on display for the… beholder to watch with myopic closeness’ (quoted in Bynum 271) could well be adapted for this exhibition: wherever we turn, we encounter bones – singly, in piles, buried, disinterred, lovingly presented alongside dried roses, encased in twirls of vellum, displayed in pill boxes and reliquaries, and clasped in the arms of the priest-figures who dominate the war landscapes. At the same time, the exhibition provides an acute reading of the omnipresence of bone in southern African history. In the case of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), for instance, a dominant narrative was the story of relatives desperate to find the unmarked graves of their ‘disappeared’


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loved ones, murdered by the agents of the apartheid state. In some cases, these bones were found and reinterred. In others, the bones could not be located. The testimonies of the TRC constituted a textual mantle or reliquary over these bones, an endeavour to confer some coherence on the trauma and to lay to rest the ghosts of the past. The theme of bones and reinterment has continued to assume importance in the post-apartheid public sphere (a recent prominent case involved the San woman Saartjie Baartman, brought from Paris where in the nineteenth century her body had become a museum exhibit, and buried in a public ceremony in South Africa on August 9, 2002 [a public holiday: Women’s Day]). These ceremonies around human remains are all attempts to establish a material continuity with a past that has been violently torn and, in keeping with African divination, is an endeavour to make the bones speak. Skotnes brings together text on bone as an organizing principle of the exhibition and in that relationship, opens up a new imaginative and visual historiography that draws together medieval and post-apartheid concerns: can we resurrect, make whole, narrativise, or confer coherence on that which has been broken and killed? The contours of this historiography are further suggested by the three textual archives that the bone books ‘anthologize’. These are texts on medieval Christianity (including hymns, extracts of Dante on purgatory, lives of Saints, lists of popes, and controversies on the Eucharist); the First World War and finally |xam texts from the Bleek and Lloyd archives. By radically integrating texts across time and space, this exhibition resonates with recent revisionist thinking on Empire (Cooper and Stoler). This school of thought questions the usefulness of older models of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ in which everything flows from metropole to colony and instead, asks us to think of Empire as an intellectually integrated zone in which circuits of influence travel in more than one direction at a time. In the words of Gyan Prakash, we need a realignment that releases ‘histories and knowledges from their disciplining as area studies; as imperial and overseas histories… that seals metropolitan structures from the contagion of the record of their own formation elsewhere’ (11). (This same sentiment has been expressed, in lighter vein, by Salman Rushdie, who has noted that the British do not understand their history because it happened somewhere else [Clifford 317].) To encompass such ideas, we need a multi-sited methodology which


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demonstrates how events are made in different places at the same time. This exhibition performs these ideas for us in visual terms. One insistent backdrop is the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars which explode before us in virtually every image we see. This exhibition reminds us that this catastrophic encounter affected not only Europe but all of Empire: troops from across the Imperial world were drawn in; fighting happened both inside and outside Europe; in some analyses, the war itself was sparked by Imperial rivalries. As Prakash indicates, the catastrophes and contagions of Empire cannot be sealed off and demarcated as the business of either metropole or colony. Imperial catastrophe becomes everyone’s catastrophe. This point is underlined by the images that repeatedly splice together different orders of Imperial carnage: in several images of First World War battle scenes, we see a foreground of disinterred bones, which at first sight seems to be coterminous with the First World War battle scene in the background. However on closer inspection, we see that the brown colour tones of the foreground differ slightly from the background and we learn that the pile of bones in the front of the image only recently came to light in a Cape Town building development and probably comprise slave remains. If we are to have an integrated and multi-sited history of Empire, then these relations have to be simultaneously grasped: foreground and background, then and now, text and image, here (Cape Town) and there (the Somme). As others have pointed out (Myers), such a revised history could usefully be traced through the things and objects of Empire. By tracking the flows of Cooper, Frederick and Ann commodities that coursed through Empire, by Laura Stoler (eds). 1997. documenting the biography of things and the Tensions of empire: colonial cultures in a bourgeois world. unexpected routes that they took, we will Berkeley: University of start to make apparent the complex pathways California Press. Prakash, Gyan. 1995. and intersynaptic networks of Empire. The Introduction. In Gyan Prakash exhibition and its multiple objects put this (ed). After colonialism: methodological challenge to the viewer. imperial histories and postcolonial displacements. How, for example, does an unused roll of Princeton: Princeton Second World War bandage make its way to University Press. Clifford, James. 1994. an antique shop in Cape Town, and what Diasporas. Cultural might we learn from that story? At the same Anthropology 9 (3): 302-338. time, the exhibition plays with this method:


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dotted across its space are what look like colonial postcards. They are however digitally produced. We are asked to ponder the result and conceptualize what it might mean for a fragment from the present to be imaginatively and retrospectively circulated via the postal systems of Empire. In some cases, the digitally produced cards mimic the carte-de-visite format and bear the name of the photographer W. Hermann, who took photographs of the Bleek and Lloyd |xam informants and printed these as cartesHall, Martin. 1996. The de-visites (Hall). In this case, we are asked to proximity of Dr Bleek’s consider the role that a particular visual genre Bushmen. In Pippa plays in circulating images, and what it means to Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the transpose that format from the past into the present presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: with a changed set of actors within its frame. UCT Press. The exhibition and its objects also push us towards yet unthought of histories of Empire that might emerge from its micro-objects. If, for example, we take the objects of this exhibition like a leopard’s vertebrae, a horse shoe nail, a toy stretcher, and a dried rose, what type of history might these produce?

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A.N.O.M.I.A

A.P.H.A.


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A.L.E.X.I.A


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The Rosary When I first went to Cape Town to see the exhibition taking shape, I had never used a rosary. In no time, Skotnes produced one from the wonderful cornucopia of her studio overflowing with every imaginable object – family photos, animal skulls, wreaths, medical antiques, a stuffed monkey, tape measures, feathers, dried flowers, parchment clippings, baby shoes, x-rays, relics… She also printed out a set of instructions, from the Internet, on how to use it (a text that incidentally recurs in several images in the exhibition). Using a rosary for the first time, I experienced the complex interaction of mind, body and text that it demands. The operation has several simultaneous dimensions: saying a roster of prayers, in a particular order, while touching the beads to keep track of one’s progress, all the while meditating on the ‘mysteries’ or events from the lives of Jesus and Mary. The particular set of events on which one meditates changes according to the day of the week. On Monday and Saturday, for instance, one reflects on the ‘Joyful Mysteries’, namely The Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) and so on. On Tuesday and Thursday, we contemplate the ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’: The Agony of our Lord in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-56), Our Lord is Scourged at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26) and so it goes. A bead, then, is associated with, and triggers, a particular prayer as well as a cluster of biographical events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. These disparate texts are in turn given coherence via the rosary. The recited texts have agency in the world since they can accomplish works of redemption in this world and the next. The texts also mark the passing of time and remind one of what day of the week it is. A rosary, then, is a mini-textual ‘factory’, a physical site where texts are generated and disseminated, floating to the next world and the ears of God. Rather like |xam stories which float in the air, these texts can glide through time and space and have effects in this world and the next. At points in the exhibition, this comparison is made explicit. In one grouped display of boxes, we encounter a leopard spine inscribed with the texts of the rosary. On either side are photographs of |han≠kass’o, one


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of Lucy Lloyd’s primary informants. The juxtaposition invites us to compare the rosary as a set of textual practices with those of the |xam. The juxtaposition is arresting and itself becomes a ‘factory’ of speculative comparisons in which |xam and Catholic practices are compared and defamiliarised. What if the leopard’s spine were to become the rosary? Imagine the rough penitential work involved in reciting a whole cycle of the rosary! What if we considered the rosary, not as an inanimate object, but rather treated living objects as rosaries, using them from afar to generate texts of meditation? Is it useful to think of the leopard as a type of rosary for the |xam? Did it unify a set of discrete and repeated texts (for instance, about leopards and humans, hunting, predators, the porous relation of humans, animals and gods) and so function as a usable archive? The |xam often saw texts as objects that floated in the air, came with the wind and carried within them the past and the future. The texts of the rosary function in the same way: they are released into the next world, and like all religious texts, collapse time. To contemplate on Jesus’ life is to enter what one historian has aptly called the ‘apostolic dream time’ (Peel Peel, J. D. Y. 155). 2001. Religious As Skotnes herself has encounter and explained, this complex the making of the Yoruba. and layered comparison Bloomington: between Christian and |xam Indiana University Press. practice forms one of the

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important foundations in her corpus: The exhibition hopes to create an arresting comparative exposition of rituals and ideas that are at once central to |xam cosmology and more broadly Christian traditions, and set these against images from periods of global and colonial conflict where, it contends, notions of sacrifice have enabled violence and brutality. One of the aims of this project is to place |xam ideas within the global imagination – not that this has not already been done in other ways – but here in a way that simultaneously highlights the tragedy of the loss of culture and the strangeness of our own (western) traditions and beliefs. (“Lamb of God”) Another ‘instruction’ we can, then, take with us is to read the exhibition as a |xam rosary. It is after all an exhibition made up of different ‘joints’ or ‘beads’, each of which we must experience physically, each of which we must contemplate on, each of which is a mystery and each of which (because it is so multivalent) would render up a different narrative on any day of the week. Like a rosary, the exhibition functions as the locus for a set of texts. Many of these have ‘floated’ to us through time via the agency of people like |han≠kass’o and Lloyd and are held together productively by the ‘rosary’ of the exhibition.


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Stomach Stone Stoop Stop Store Stork Story

Stout Straight Strandwolf Strengthen Strepsiceros Stretch Strike

String Strip Striped Stroke Strong Strongly Struthio

Stupid Stupidity Stupidly Subsequently Suck Suckle Summer

Sun Surely Surface Suricata Surround Swallow Swarm

Sweat Sweep Sweet Swell Swim Swing Syntomis

Tabanus Tail Take Take (2) Take (3) Tale Talk

Talk (2) Tall Tap Taste Teach Tear (subs) Tear (verb) (2)

Tease Teetotem Tell Tender Terror Testicle Testudo

Than Thank That (conj) That (pron) The Thee Their

Them Themselves Then Thence There Thereabouts Therefore

Therewith These They Thick Thigh Thin Thing

(2)

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The Archive

Hamilton, Carolyn, Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid and Razia Saleh (eds). 2002. Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip. Stoler, Ann. 2002. Colonial archives and the arts of governance: on the content in the form. In Carolyn Hamilton, Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid and Razia Saleh (eds). Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip.

At several points in the exhibition, the archive created by Bleek and Lloyd is invoked: sections of it are inscribed on one horse, images of rolled up documents from the archive are included and individual pages and letters written by Lloyd are reproduced. Indeed Lloyd herself appears in the exhibition, dressed in a priest’s robes. The idea of the archive has of course loomed large in recent academic thought (Hamilton et al) and has become a strategy to contemplate reflexively on disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Archives are now less sources of information to be mined for facts but are rather institutional sites through which the politics of knowledge may be profitably analysed. The term, often used with a capital ‘A’ has become a way of talking about virtually any corpus of texts as a configuration of power (Stoler). In relation to state-sanctioned collections of documents, debate has focused on archives as sites for analysing state craft and technologies of rule. The nature of state power is then analysed through the systems of classification that states use in their ‘paper empires’ (quoted in Stoler 90); the grid of intelligibility through which these operate; and the codified fictions through which states authorise themselves. The exhibition invokes the metaphor of the archive and so turns our attention to these debates. However, it soon becomes apparent that this exhibition is less interested in reading archives as configurations and grids of power than of asking how these may be eluded. This tendency becomes apparent if we turn to the biography of the horse skeletons. As the artist explained to me, the idea for these emerged after she had unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the State Library from claiming a depository copy of an art book, Sound from the thinking strings: a visual, literary, archaeological and historical interpretation of the final years of |xam life. Skotnes maintained that the book was a work of art and so did not fall within the scope of the deposit law. The State Library maintained it was a book. After a protracted set of court cases, the Library won and claimed its book. What type of book, Skotnes wondered, could one make that the library couldn’t claim? Could one make a book to evade the state with its extractive demands and forms of classification?


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Mbembe, Achille. 2002. The power of the archive and its limits. In Carolyn Hamilton, Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid and Razia Saleh (eds). Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip.

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The horses then are an attempt to create a fugitive archive, and to think more fugitively about archives and their uses. In this regard, the discussion of archives as sites of secular religion and as cemeteries becomes apposite particularly as these resonate so deeply with the medieval themes of the exhibition. Mbembe, for example, describes the archive as a temple and a cemetery: a religious space because a set of rituals is constantly taking place there, rituals… of a quasimagical nature, and a cemetery in the sense that the fragments of lives and pieces of time are interred there, their shadows and footprints inscribed on paper and preserved like so many relics. (19) Seen in this way, the archive raises questions of resurrection and redemption: Following tracks, putting back together scraps and debris, and reassembling remains, is to be implicated in a ritual which results in the resuscitation of life, in bringing the dead back to life by reintegrating them in the cycle of time, in such a way that they find, in a text, in an artefact or in a monument, a place to inhabit it, from where they may continue to express themselves. (25) Like Lloyd’s archive, this exhibition too attempts to create a protean place from which those in the past can continue to ‘express’ themselves. This ‘expression’ has been realised by an act of curatorship in which objects have been configured in unexpected juxtapositions. In this configuration, these objects and their relationships have been transformed and we consequently think of them differently. This set of curatorial procedures offers advice and instruction both for those who use archives and for those who compile and administer them.


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This emphasis on art and curatorship as transformation points to a second issue to emerge from the exhibition’s engagement with the Bleek and Lloyd archive, namely the theme of translation. As theorists like Apter (2001) and Liu (1999) have reminded us, this issue is being increasingly identified as critical to theorisations of Empire and transnationality. These recent debates have moved away from traditional approaches to translation which have defined their business as examining factors internal to translated texts and speculating on what orders of understanding their linguistic and stylistic choices do or do not enable. Instead, the issues are now generally posed in terms of translatability, understood as a repertoire of social and political questions: under what circumstances can texts, or indeed other objects, concepts or social groups, be seen as equivalent and translatable or incommensurate and untranslatable. How, and why, are such climates of intelligibility (or non-intelligibility) created? As with discussions of the archive, a consideration of translatability directs our attention to themes of the sociology and politics of knowledge. How do intellectuals, institutions, public opinion and popular taste interact to produce climates where texts, objects, or social groups are regarded as equivalent or otherwise? The exhibition dramatises these themes of translatability by presenting us with |xam texts which no-one can read but none the less declaring its intention to make them translatable and equivalent. This theme is further complicated in the repeated figures of the priest that dominate the First World War landscapes. Several of these hold out a Eucharist wafer and so invoke the medieval debates on this topic, extracts of which are inscribed on one of the horses. In consecrating the host, a priest is of course performing an audacious act of translatability, declaring the host and the body of Christ to be the same thing.

Apter, Emily. 2001. On translation in a global market. Public Culture 13 (1): 1-12. Liu, Lydia H. 1999. The question of meaningvalue in the political economy of the sign. In Lydia H. Liu (ed). Tokens of exchange: the problem of translation in global circulations. Durham: Duke University Press.

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The priest-figures in the images are all friends, family, colleagues and students of Skotnes and, as such, represent the intellectual classes, involved, like the priests, in attempting acts of translatability and commensurability. The exhibition itself is of course an extended experiment in translatability. Its grammar has equipped us with a set of instructions and from this we learn that if we extend our imaginations, all things have the capacity for equivalence and translatability. In her inaugural lecture, Real Presence, Skotnes explored these ideas. Like the Eucharist, which makes wafer into flesh and vice versa, so too art has the capacity to make different things similar: ‘The art object [is] capable of being precisely what it [does] not appear to be, it [has], like the flesh in the wafer, what Catholics call Real Presence’ (5). Elsewhere in the same lecture she notes: ‘[Art] insists on our simultaneous experience of [multiple] identities – and through this process, an experience of Real Presence’ (14). In conclusion, let us turn to a medieval observation from Peter the Venerable who lived in the mid-twelfth century. Preaching to his monks, Peter became devil’s advocate and asked: ‘… what does it profit us to frequent with hymns and praises bones lacking in sense?’ (quoted in Bynum 264). Peter then went on to rebut his own question by demonstrating the importance of venerating the bones of the holy since the souls of their erstwhile owners now resided with God and their bones would in due course be resurrected. Peter’s message is plain: we continue to believe in dry bones


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because we prize life over death. Turning from a religious age to a secular one, we might still pose the same question, but in different terms: ‘What does it profit us to venerate and embellish the bones of carthorses?’ Having experienced this exhibition, we will all have our own answers to this question but our responses will surely concur that the carthorses have taught us to read a miraculous book, and that we will, for ever after, be able to see life, narrative and new possibilities in bone where we saw none before.

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P.S. 118 Extract from a report written to the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, Cape Town, 21st April, 1863 from Louis Anthing, magistrate on a special mission to ascertain the state of affairs in the north western districts of the colony. Sir,– I have the honour to submit herewith a report of my proceedings in connection with the service in which I have been for some time engaged. I started from Springbokfontein on the 12th of February of last year, in compliance with the instructions conveyed to me by your letter of the 10th of the previous month. The object of my expedition was to take proceedings against persons who, it had been alleged, had at various times killed numerous parties of Bushmen, with their families, in the tract of country known as Bushmanland...

The Story of Hercules ... I will yet mention one other instance, which will show what causes led to the desperation of the Bushmen at the time we came amongst them. I have mentioned one Hercules as being at the head of one of the bands. This man's parents and brothers and sisters, with the exception of one brother, who, with himself, had gone out hunting, had been killed in the [massacre] at Boschduif. The smaller kraal which had been attacked by the same commando was that of his wife's parents. So that he had lost all his own and his wife's relatives and friends, with the exception of the one brother, in those massacres. Yet all this does not appear to have driven him to any act of revenge. Probably his spirit was broken by the destruction of the whole of his clan. At all events, he worked for the Bastards after this, and he worked hard, but, by all accounts (not his own) he fared very badly in that service. However, he worked on faithfully until it occurred one day that his son and two other young Bushmen stole, or, by their account, took some sheep which they found straying in the veld. The young men were pursued. One escaped with a bullet

wound in the neck; the two others, of whom Hercules's son was one, were killed. Hercules told me that his son had crept into a hole after being wounded, and had afterwards been dragged out and ripped open whilst he was still alive. This then drove the man to desperation. He ran away from his master and went into the bush, where he was joined by others, and they then resolved to resent their grievances. It was whilst they were in this frame of mind that we came into the country, and it was by his second son, a youngster of about eleven or twelve years of age, and another young Bushman that the two young Bastards were killed as I have [previously] related. When Hercules was eventually persuaded by other Bushmen to give himself up and I met him, near to our station, coming in with his little son, – after listening to what I had to say to him, he showed me a little hair clotted with blood which he carried near his heart, and said that that had belonged to his finest boy who had been killed, and that it was that which had led him to the course he had been pursuing. I have only to state, in conclusion, that I brought with me to Cape Town Hercules's son, and the other one who had killed the two young Bastards, and also Hercules himself and the young Bushmen who had been wounded at the time when the farmer's eldest son had been killed. My object in bringing them was two fold. There were constant rumours of an intention on the part of Hercules, who was at large, to attack our post, as, it was said, he was determined to have back his boy who was our prisoner. I never believed this, but to make sure that such an event should not happen during my absence I resolved upon taking the prisoners to town with me, and Hercules too. I allowed them to be loose and unguarded on the road, so that they had ample opportunity either to run away or to take our own guns and kill us whilst we were asleep. The result has justified my confidence. The other object I had in view was that if the prisoners were to be brought to trial it might, perhaps, be most conveniently done in the Supreme Court, and I hoped to be in time for the February session. The Acting Attorney General has, however, waived the prosecution...

P


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Notes Pages 1, 7, 31 and 75. I am grateful to the publishers (Continuum, New York) for permission to quote from Piero Camporesi’s inspirational book, Juice of life: the symbolic and magical significance of blood. Page 2 Unconsecrated hosts with the image of the crucifixion embossed on them. Yet I, least of all souls, Take Him in my hand, Eat Him and drink Him, And do with Him what I will! Why then should I trouble myself As to what the angels experience? (quoted in Bynum 1992: 127) Page 2 (opposite) Malcolm Payne, Rose Shakinofsky and Claire Gavronsky pose wearing the plain cassocks of a priest (black) and a cardinal (red). Included is a popular portrait of Jesus Christ. Page 4 Thanks to Mark Solms, neuroscientist, who posed for this photograph notwithstanding his aversion to all the skeletons in my studio.

Page 5

Uncut wafer with cross and alpha and omega embossed on it. Pages 10–11 Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, photographs, wood, cloth, inscribed bone, vellum and glass vials with 160 lines from an essay by Stephen Greenblatt. The cases were made by Gary Branquet, a craftsman of unequalled skill, who sadly died before he could see this exhibition completed. Page 12 The quote is from Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline and spoken by Arviragus

in Act 4 Scene 2 lines 198–9. It was found engraved into a wooden post, without any other explanation, in a graveyard near Brighton.

Page 14 Real Presence. A version of this essay was first presented quite a number of years ago as my inaugural professorial lecture at the University of Cape Town. Unconsecrated hosts with the image of the crucifixion embossed on them. Page 14 (opposite) Malcolm Payne, Rose Shakinofsky and Claire Gavronsky pose with several objects from my studio. Many of the small relics, cards and devotional items figured here were lovingly collected for me by Rose and Claire in markets in Italy. I am very grateful to them.


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Thanks to Duncan Miller, scientist and gemologist (who, many years ago, first encouraged the university’s research committee to support a project in which I proposed to write a book on the bones of a horse) for posing for the photograph used in this image. The skull is from a study collection at the Anatomy Department at UCT. Page 19 The etching (also the one on the following page, and on page 36) is from the book Sound from the thinking strings (1991) and the tin, opposite, was given to me by Penny Dobbie. Unconsecrated host with the image of the crucifixion embossed on it. Page 25 (opposite) I am grateful to Philippe Salazar, Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric Studies at UCT (figured in this image), who gave me the use of his own white cassock for this project. Page 26 Stephen Greenblatt kindly sent me this quote from the Catholic priest called Mumford who had tried to awaken the sense of fear that had been aroused in the Middle Ages by the stories that circulated about the knight Owein who visited St. Patrick’s purgatory. It was saved as an email fragment without a reference. Opposite: the glass bottle with wooden features of the crucifixion was purchased in Diagonal Street, downtown Johannesburg, in 1991. Page 28 Thanks to Alice Parkington and her friend Mara for posing for this photograph, and to Fritha Langerman (opposite). The string of bird skulls she wears around her neck are those of a small community of blue cranes poisoned by farmers in the Northern Cape and cleaned for me at Iziko South African Museum. Page 31 (opposite) Thanks to my son, Jules A Skotnes Brown, for posing for the photograph used in this image.

Page 33 The little book with painted ivory cover (The garden of the soul: a manual of Catholic devotion – also page 105) was given by her parents to my mother Thelma Carter for her first communion. The silver sacred heart, of a kind seen at many shrines, was purchased in an antique shop in Venice in 2008. Page 35 (opposite) Thanks to J. M. Coetzee, author and then Professor of English Language and Literature at UCT, for posing for the photograph used in this image. Page 35 Jan Rondebout as he posed in 1876 in Cape Town; detail from the Book of the Divine Consolation; relic fragment with portrait of St. Gemma Galgani. Page 41 The sacred heart (opposite) is a particularly lovely gift from Rose and Claire found in my favourite of all cities, Florence. Also on this page: the story of the tree is found in Lucy Lloyd’s notebooks, pages 295 – 305. The photograph with tree was taken in the Northern Cape near Springbokoog. Pages 42–43 Cards from the dictionary of |xam to English words and phrases made by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd in the 1870s.


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Professor of English (UCT) and Nobel prize winner; Fritha Langerman, colleague at Michaelis; Jules Brown, son and heir; Mark Fleishman, head of Drama (UCT); Karen Jacobsen, sister and Professor of International Diplomacy at the Fletcher School (Tufts University); Weiland Gevers, then Deputy ViceChancellor UCT (now Executive Officer at the Academy of Science of South Africa); Nigel Penn, great friend, historian of the northern frontier and professor of History (UCT); Terry Kurgan, artist; Philippe Salazar, distinguished professor of Rhetoric Studies and former monk.

Page 57 The

Page 44 (opposite) this little case is one of the 15 of the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary. The text was sent to me by Stephen Greenblatt, who has, from time to time, given me a cherished glimpse into the astonishing world that exists in his head. Pages 46–47 These rolls are an unexplored part of Wilhelm Bleek’s legacy, kept at the National Library of South Africa. On top of them is a photograph of a yellow mongoose killed on a farm road in the Northern Cape. Page 48 (opposite) an etching from my book, Sound from the thinking strings (1991). Pages 50–51 Details from the Twenty-one Mysteries of Light. Also a card from the dictionary of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. Pages 52–57 Twelve Battles of World War 1. I am grateful to those who posed for me: Herbert Prins, architect; David Brown, sculptor; Duncan Miller, archaeologist; J M Coetzee, author, Emeritus

poem is ‘The Call’ by Jessie Pope (1915). Page 58 Stephen Greenblatt is University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. I am truly grateful to him for this text. Images opposite: details from the bone book, Book of the Divine Consolation and the hoof and silver shoe of the bone book, Book of Speaking in Tongues. Page 62 (opposite) My thanks to Carmel Schrire, archaeologist, for the larger part of my collection of Catholic silver votive objects. Page 64 The three bone books: Book of Blood and Milk, Book of the Divine Consolation, and Book of Speaking in Tongues, as they were seen on exhibition in Bergen, Norway, the home of my paternal ancestors. Page 67 Head of the Book of Blood and Milk which contains texts from Dante’s Purgatory. The horse was once a cart-horse on the Cape Flats. Page 70 Details from the Book of Blood and Milk including the names and dates of death of women murdered following accusations of witchcraft


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(including 16th and 17th century executions in Europe and 20th century executions in South Africa. Written on vellum and the scapulas of baboons and small bovids). Page 72 Details from the bone book Book of Speaking in Tongues, written in the San language |xam, now extinct. Page 75 An embossed funeral card dating from the 1880s (also on page 113), and (opposite) the glass bottle contains wooden features of the crucifixion (purchased in Keetmanshoop in Namibia in 1995).

Page 76

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand. She has enriched my experience of my own work and I am grateful to her for this wonderful essay. Opposite: Book of the Divine Consolation. Page 80 A scrap of blotting paper from one of Lucy Lloyd’s |xam notebooks, an object (for me) of inexpressible loveliness. Page 82 (opposite) Book of Blood and Milk. Gary Branquet shaped the bent-wood armature (the spines) of these skeletons for me. He also made the wooden cases for other works in this exhibition. I regret deeply that he is no longer among us, but am grateful that the task gave him some pleasure during his life. Page 88 Page 7035 from one of Lucy Lloyd’s |xam notebooks — a fragment of a story about |kaggen and the cats whose skins had no equal in beauty. Opposite: one of my treasured gifts: a stuffed budgie from Gwen van Embden, fellow curator. Page 92 A photograph of my father-in-law James Ambrose Brown in Egypt during World War 2 along with his medals (opposite). Details from My Father’s House (on previous pages too). Pages 94–95 Book of Loss: A.l.e.x.i.a, A.n.o.m.i.a, A.p.h.a.s.i.a. Page 97 Isabel Hofmeyr and Sandra Prosalendis

pose with Book of Loss: A.n.o.m.i.a and A.l.e.x.i.a. Page 100 Prayer to St. Rita. Leopard skeleton (from a leopard found dead in a gin trap on a farm in the Western Cape), the skulls of seven blue cranes poisoned by a farmer in the Northern Cape, lines from an essay by Stephen Greenblatt, two portraits of |han≠kass’o, nails used for shodding horses, cloth, ink, vellum and gold leaf. St. Rita endured the abuse and cruelty of an evil husband, after his death gaining admission to the Augustine Convent at Cascia. There she lived a life in service of the poor, subjecting herself to mortification and prayer, her nourishment almost entirely derived from a diet of the holy host. After her death many miracles were claimed to have resulted from her intercessions and she gained the title of La Santa de los impossibiles in Spain. She was canonized in 1900. (Online Catholic Encyclopaedia http://www.newadvent.org/ cathen/13064a.htm)

Pages 102–103

Details from the Twenty-one

Mysteries of Light. The child in the photograph is my mother-in-law, Ruth Brown, and the WW1 soldiers come from a collection I bought in a market in London. On the far left is a collection of stone tools photographed at a |hun, or waterhole, in a rock in the Northern Cape outside of Kenhardt. |xam-ka-!ei must have come from miles around to this waterhole in the dry season for, apart from tools, there are thousands of fragments of ostrich egg shells. There are also several markings in the rock of the |hun, suggesting other activities at the site of the waterhole. On the far right is a broken grave stone from the graveyard in Kenhardt. Page 104 My parents appear on this page, as does my brother. Opposite: a book of Catholic prayer and a votive card photographed in a museum in Switzerland.


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Pages 106–107 Words from the English to |xam dictionary compiled by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. Page 109 Fragments from a dictionary compiled by Wilhelm Bleek prior to his interest in San languages, now housed at the National Library. Pages 112–113 Entries to Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek’s |xam dictionary. It is the dictionary for a language no longer spoken by anyone, the heart of what remains of an extinguished peoples’ ideas, and the silent sounds of the words that articulated them. It is the part of the Bleek and Lloyd Archive that has both given me the most pleasure and the greatest sense of loss. It asks questions about the death of language, about what it means to live in the absence of a particular world view and all the people that once understood it, and about Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd who created a memory of it. Cara van der Westhuizen and Fazlin van der Schyff have had both the enviable and unenviable task of photographing and retouching the tens of thousands of envelopes and slips that comprise the |xam dictionary. I am enormously grateful to them. Pages 116–117 The landscape near Kenhardt in the heart of |xam-ka-!au Page 118 P.S. Louis Anthing is the subject of a forthcoming project and book. This is one of the stories he recorded. Many thanks for their indispensable assistance to Thomas Cartwright and Cara van der Westhuizen, Timothy Leibrandt and Ingrid Willis, Paul Weinberg, Tashinga Matindike,

Russell Jones and my colleagues, family and friends. None of this would have been possible without the astonishing support of that most enlightened of institutions, the Andrew Mellon Foundation along with Stuart Saunders and De Beers. I am, as ever, grateful to them all. The University of Cape Town provides me with a cherished space in which to work, and access to interesting people and a world of ideas.


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Some References Apter, E. 2001. On translation in a global market. Public Culture 13 (1): 1-12. Barthes, R. 1989. The rustle of language. Translated from French by Richard Howard. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Bleek, W.H.I. 1873. Report of Dr Bleek concerning his researches into the Bushman language and customs. Presented to the Honourable the House of Assembly by command of His Excellency the Governor. Cape Town: House of Assembly. Bleek, W.H.I. 1875. Second report concerning Bushman researches, with a short account of Bushman folk-lore, presented to both Houses of Parliament, by command of his Excellency the Governor. Cape Town: Saul Solomon & Co. Bleek, W.H.I. and Lloyd, L.C. 1911. Specimens of Bushmen folklore. London: George Allen Brown, P. 1962. Augustine of Hippo: a biography. London: Faber & Faber. Bynum, C.W. 1982. Jesus as mother: studies in the spirituality of the High Middle Ages. Berkeley: University of California Press. Bynum, C.W. 1992. Fragmentation and redemption: essays in gender and the human body in Medieval religion. New York: Zone Books. Bynum, C.W. 1995. The resurrection of the body in western Christianity, 200 – 1336. New York: Columbia University Press. Bynum, C.W. 1998. Holy feast and holy fast: the religious significance of food to medieval women. Berkeley: University of California Press. Camporesi, P. 1985. Juice of life: the symbolic and magic significance of blood. New York: Continuum Books. Camporesi, P. 1988. The incorruptible flesh: bodily mutation and mortification in religion and folklore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Camporesi, P. 1989. Bread of dreams: food and fantasy

in early modern Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chartier, R. 1989. Texts, printings, readings. In L. Hunt (ed). The new cultural history. Berkeley: University of California Press. Clifford, J. 1994. Diasporas. Cultural Anthropology 9 (3): 302-338. Cooper, F. & Stoler, L.A. (eds). 1997. Tensions of empire: colonial cultures in a bourgeois world. Berkeley: University of California Press. Curtin, P. 1955. Two Jamaicas: the role of ideas in a tropical colony 1830-1865. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Deacon, J. 1996. A tale of two families: Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd and the |xam San of the Northern Cape. In P. Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press. Gallagher, C. & Greenblatt, S. 2000. Practicing new historicism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gell, A. 1998. Art and agency: an anthropological theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Greenblatt, S. 1990. Learning to curse: essays in early modern culture. New York: Routledge. Greenblatt, S. 2001. Hamlet in purgatory. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Greenblatt, S. 1996. Remnants of the sacred in early modern England. In M. de Grazia, M. Quilligan & P. Stallybrass (eds). Subject and object in Renaissance


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culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hall, M. 1996. The proximity of Dr Bleek’s Bushmen. In P. Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press. Hamilton, C., Harris, V., Taylor, J., Pickover, M., Reid, G. & Saleh, R. (eds). 2002. Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip. Heesterman, J.C. 1993. The broken world of sacrifice: an essay in ancient Indian ritual. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hofmeyr, I. 2002. Dreams, documents and ‘fetishes’: African Christian interpretations of The Pilgrim’s progress. Journal of Religion in Africa 32 (3): 1-17. Hofmeyr, I. 2002. Metaphorical books. Current Writing 13 (2): 100-108. Liu, L.H. 1999. The question of meaning-value in the political economy of the sign. In L. Liu (ed). Tokens of exchange: the problem of translation in global circulations. Durham: Duke University Press. Lloyd, L.C. 1889. A short account of further Bushman material collected. Third report concerning Bushman researches, presented to both Houses of the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope, by command of His Excellency the Governor. London: David Nutt. Manguel, A. 1996. A history of reading. London: Flamingo. Mbembe, A. 2002. The power of the archive and its limits. In C. Hamilton, V. Harris, J. Taylor, M. Pickover, G. Reid & R. Saleh (eds). Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip. Myers, F. (ed). 2001. The empire of things: regimes of value and material culture. Oxford: James Currey. Payne, M. 1993. (ed/artist) Face value: old heads in modern masks. Cape Town: Axeage Private Press. Peel, J.D.Y. 2001. Religious encounter and the making of the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Prakash, G. 1995. Introduction. In G. Prakash (ed). After colonialism: imperial histories and postcolonial

displacements. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Prinsloo, M. & Breier, M. (eds). 1996. The social uses of literacy: theory and practice in contemporary South Africa. Johannesburg: SACHED/John Benjamins. Skotnes, P. 1991. (ed/artist) Sound from the thinking strings: a visual, archaeological, historical and literary interpretation of the final years of |xam life. Cape Town: Axeage Private Press. Skotnes, P (ed). 1996. Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press. Skotnes, P. 1996. Introduction. In P. Skotnes (ed). Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press. Skotnes, P. 1999. Heaven’s things: a story of the |xam. Cape Town: LLAREC Series in Visual History, University of Cape Town. Skotnes, P. 2001. Real presence: inaugural lecture. Cape Town: University of Cape Town. Skotnes, P. 2001. Civilised off the face of the earth: museum display and the silencing of the |xam. Poetics Today 22 (2): 299-321. Skotnes, P. & Payne, M. 1995. The art of the curator: exhibiting art in contemporary South Africa. Social Dynamics 21 (1): 83-95. Skotnes, P. & Fleishman, M. 2002. Stories are the wind: representing time and space in San narratives. Cape Town: LLAREC Series in Visual History, University of Cape Town. Skotnes, P. 2003. Lamb of God. Installation. http://www.stiftelsen314.com/exhi_prog/pippa/. Site accessed December 19, 2003. Stoler, A. 2002. Colonial archives and the arts of governance: on the content in the form. In C. Hamilton, V. Harris, J. Taylor, M. Pickover, G. Reid & R. Saleh (eds). Refiguring the archive. Cape Town: David Philip. Street, B. 1993. Cross-cultural approaches to literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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This is a project of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town, and aspects of it have been generously supported by De Beers and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

First published 2009 in Cape Town

AXEAGE PRIVATE PRESS CENTRE FOR CURATING THE ARCHIVE

ISBN 978-0-620-45733-0 Š Pippa Skotnes 2009 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form and by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the author.

Book conceptualisation, design and layout by Pippa Skotnes.


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Book of iterations