sarah van lamsweerde


Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall

Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall - "To Be Continued" (string, various objects and materials) Photo Peter Cox

In the oral tradition of the Lega, a group of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, proverb strings play an important role. Each string carries 40-60 miniature objects, which represent a proverb and traditionally function as carriers of wisdom. The meaning of these objects is activated in social situations, told and re-told, often in a debate and discussion, by members of the community.

Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall is a project that migrates through performance, publication and exhibition to explore this past tradition and to question what it would mean to develop such an ideographic device in this age of disembodied images and communications. Real and imagined metaphors emerge through strangely familiar but clearly contemporary objects, tales and actions, creating a speculative view on what forms of knowledge can be achieved and rendered from (im)material interactions with our environment today.



Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall (2015), performance view. Photo Ernst van Deursen

The premise for this project presents us with aesthetical and ethical questions: what symbols to harvest from our contemporary jungle overgrown with Action shops and viral lifehacks? Is this form of cultural appropriation a dubious exercise or a good starting point for a conversation piece?

Together with fellow-artists Esther Mugambi and Alex Zakkas, van Lamsweerde wonders to what extent our individual tales are collective and how (un)common our places in the world are. More than making sense of this world, they look for relations both mundane and mystical by examining seeds of thought, burning Doritos and other breaths of fresh unknown.

'A circle without an end, is a hook' (cigarettes in the shape of a reload icon) Photo S. van Lamsweerde

Further documentation:

Video of research / reanimation with Lega in MAC's Le Grand Hornu

Short video-tour of exhibition

Video trailer of performance

Full video-registration of performance

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Image portfolio available on request

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reviews and press:

Tijs Goldschmidt in NRC: "Use your legs and you shall eat" (Dutch; English version available upon request)

Anneke van Wolfswinkel for Eindhovens Dagblad: De kunst van het vertellen (Dutch)

Concept and development Sarah van Lamsweerde; Creation and performance Esther Mugambi, Alex Zakkas and Sarah van Lamsweerde; Executive producer and curator Kris Dittel; Dramaturgical assistance Zhana Ivanova; Voice and Lega-proverb coach Pierre Tombo; Scenography, props and dress Liza Witte; Sound Advice Piet-Jan van Rossum; Graphic design Céline Wouters; Production asistance Anna Frijstein.

Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall is a coproduction by Veem House for Performance, Onomatopee Projects and Stichting Tre Tigri.

Made possible with kind support of Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Stichting Stokroos and Kunstencentrum Buda (BE).