Performance & Films

Performance Rituals



The text for this film has its beginnings in 2012 when I found a December 1938 copy of Die Taalgenoot in an old wagon chest that used to belong to my Grandmother. At the time I was tracking how the culture and history of my ancestors (and Western culture) shaped the values and behaviour toward the natural world. It pained me to read Dirk Mostert’s essay titled Stemme van Suid-Afrika [Voices of South Africa], as I recognised how many voices in South Africa (both human and other-than-human) were in fact not listened to. I understand that culture and nature are so inextricably bound together that by silencing indigenous culture and nature, the necessary reverence for those beings who were shaped from the depths of this place were lost. I became aware of the vastness of the distance I have covered in my desperation to run from this older type of Afrikaner. I vowed to listen and to give voice to the voiceless; be it endangered plants; rivers; damaged places or people who cannot speak anymore.

In 2019 I visited the Tankwa Karoo Desert. The word ‘Tankwa’ is assumed to have Khoisan origins and is believed to mean ‘Place of Thirst’ and ‘Place of the San’. Here in this desolate arid emptiness remnants of Stemme van Suid-Afrika came back to me: only short words and part-

sentences. In this vastness the text rearranged and transformed itself in my mind into a new meaning; into something which better represents who I have become, what I believe and my stance toward this place we call South Africa. I walked barefoot, and as lightly as possible, as to avoid disturbing the rocks of this ancient and silent place, the Tankwa. As I listened deeply, I heard. What I heard was devastating, overwhelming and hard to hold as a mere individual. It compelled me to ask:

What is the Earth asking of me, and of humanity, NOW?

After my visit something in the place and in me transformed so radically that it has taken me two years to find balance again. The work in this exhibition is part of my ongoing quest to allow matter to speak; to find regenerating ways of relating to myself, to the other-than-human world and to humans from all time, both past and present.



(Hanien Conradie: 2019) [Rain Dance]

In Reëndans my mother, Helena Conradie, performs the poem Die Dans Van die Reën by Eugène Marais, in Afrikaans. My mother is a professional performer and word artist. As an elder and custodian of the Afrikaans language she archives compilations of well-known Afrikaans poems for future generations through performance.

Die Dans Van die Reën
Eugène Marais (1871-1986)
First, she peeps slyly over the mountain top,
and her eyes are shy; and she laughs softly.
And from far off she beckons with one hand;
her armbands flash and her beads glitter;
softly she calls.

She tells the winds of the dance,
she invites them,
for the clearing is wide and it will be a great wedding.

The big antelope race up from the plains
they bunch on the hilltop,
straining wide their nostrils
and they swallow the wind;
and they bend to see her faint footmarks in the sand.

The little people deep under the ground
hear the rustle of her feet
and they creep nearer and sing softly:
“Our Sister! Our Sister! You have come! You have come!”

And her beads shake
and her copper anklets glint in the sloping of the sun.
On her forehead the fire-plume of a mountain eagle;
she steps down from the heights;
she spreads out the grey kaross with both her arms;
the breath of the wind is lost.
Oh, the dance of our sister!
From: The Penguin Book of South African Verse
Edited by Jack Cope and Uys Krige

Eugène Marais was a poet, medical doctor and naturalist. He is probably the most beloved and treasured poet in the Afrikaans language. Marais poem ‘Winternag’ is often described as the first Afrikaans poem. Marais’s texts featured in this exhibition are taken from a collection of stories titled Dwaalstories (1921). ‘Dwaalstories’ can be translated as ‘stories that wander’ or ‘meander’; stories without apparent endings. These stories were infused by his conversations with ‘Oom Hendrik’ an old Afrikaans speaking San elder Marais spent time with. In the stories I selected here, the magical forces inherent in nature and the belief in water and rain spirits reveals the cosmology of animism to the reader.



Dart is a short film by Margaret LeJeune and Hanien Conradie recorded at a residency in the UK titled The Ephemeral River organized by the Global Nomadic Art Project in association with and the CCNW. This perfomance took place in the River Dart, on Dartington Estate, Devon. This documentation of Conradie's performance by Lejeune is an artwork in itself. Read more about this film at 
This film was part of the exhibition titled Raaswater,at the Everard Read Circa Gallery, where it premiered in May 2019.



Vigil records and documents an all night vigil performed by Hanien Conradie and her partner Colin Campbell, for the Tankwa Karoo at the Tankwa Artscape Residency (2020). The ritual started with Conradie, Campbell and landowner JP DeVilliers at sun set. Conradie and Campbell then continued being present to the desert right through the night until sunrise, when the community of resident artists were invited to join the closure of the ritual. 



Paintings - Moving Image

40 nights / 40 DAYS from the lockdown

This short film was created to allow viewers to engage with the small paintings and poems virtually. For more information please visit