Delft Blue/Water Letters for “Les Revenants” (The Returned or Ghost Ship)
A project of the flow of the Atlantic; the Gironde Estuary from the Atlantic Ocean to Bordeaux
Curated by Migrations Culturelles Aquitaine Afriques (MC2a)The Gironde estuary, biggest estuary of Europe is vital for the future of the territory. Its advantages come mainly from economic order: wine, tourism and new industries. All these specificities offer cultural and artistic consequences which were developed in the Revenants project :
"Ghost ship" is anchored on the memory of the water, with all that it transports of alluvium of past and the present. Staging the estuary of the Gironde is to question the past, and it is also building the memory of tomorrow.In August 2014 a dozen international artists gathered in Bordeaux, France to workshop the concepts for Les Revenants - scheduled for May – September 2015 around site specific venues of the Garonne region.
Participating artists: Edwige Aplogan,Yassine Balbzioui, Audry Liseron-Monfils, Clifford Charles, Julien Creuzet, Yoël Jimenez, Méga Mingiedi, Younès Rahmoun, Guy Régis Jr, Amalia Ramanankirahina, Dilomprizulike, Lien BothaLien Botha’s concept for the project was initially derived from an idea sparked by an article written by Danelle van Zyl-Hermann on ’Emotional Life at the Occupied Cape of Good Hope, 1798-1803,’ about letters from the Cape which never reached their destination.
These letters were written by Dutch citizens who resided at the Cape of Good Hope between
(1795-1803). During this time the Cape was under British Rule and as a result of privateering the
pirates (sailors) were “entitled” to claim the entire cargo of ships which they had taken into
custody according to legal procedures of the time.
During these ‘raids’ the mailbags were also confiscated and subsequently archived with the High
Court of Admiralty. Today the HCA Archive forms part of the British National Archives in Kew,
London and contains more than 38 000 hijacked letters of Dutch origin.
The letters never reached their destination, and it was this sense of perdition (lost words obliterated by history’s routes), which she found compelling material to work with and particularly adequate for the concept of “Ghost Ship.” Many of the letters are very evocative, lamenting and sometimes even humorous in content, which renders an alternative reading of the landscape and conditions to that of the official logs of the time.
Botha developed the idea and correlated with seven sites around the riverbank relating to the Dutch influence on the Bordeaux region in the 1600’s and thus triangulating Holland, France and South Africa.From the original concept of re-claiming the lost letters by the Dutch, as proposed to director of the project, Guy Lenoir, this proposal evolved due to contact with the various sites and philosophical excavation of the terrain/history pertaining to existing but also suggestive narratives and the artist was compelled to re-assess her proposal as follows:
The early morning boat trip on board the ‘Deux Frères’ along the Garonne river was a very evocative experience with fleeting images and possibilities rising from the wide water; dark in the morning and lifting with the light in order to reveal such magic as the carrelets along the river banks, insects circling, presence of other passengers /artists on the boat. The vessel as a dictionary with so much pointing in directions: rope, masts, compass, map, the estuary rising and falling in a chaotic mind. You listen, listen in vain for the sounds of Jean Pierre Royer’s fish, meagre grunting – to no avail.
Paragraphs lost in translation - literally - while one stumbles as a stranger in a strange country trying to make a shape in ten days, nearly impossible, but you cling to thread - the filament of wool.What follows on land are the clues and the confirmations of the ‘mattes’ left by the Dutch in the 17th century, the in-between fragility of our existence, our own ebb, our echo location always shifting.
All else follows almost logically; a blue circle below my table in the workspace at Quai du Maroc, the
scars left by others, the artist’s own invisible departure.
Des assos à l’assaut des inégalités culturelles
Walid Salem, Rue 89 Bordeaux 5 Octobre 2015
Les Revenants, constellation du tout-monde
Expo 17 Les revenants, Lien Botha