Strain Against the Archives / Fieldguide Gathering / Cape Town

A gathering around Fieldguide #1, UNPICK, RESTITCH – Doilies, Medorahs, Labouring Plants by Nadia Kamies.

UNPICK, RESTITCH narrates an archive of the ordinary. It insists on story-telling as method. There are family photographs, hand-crocheted doilies and medorahs – Nadia’s grandmothers’ craftwork – rituals and traditions. There is the Rose of Jericho or Flower of Maryam, a plant that emerges as an analogy for midwives, birth and labour, travelling and displacement, rebirth and resurrection, with deep connections to disempowered voices throughout generations. Stray threads are pulled into stories within stories.

The essay picks up where Nadia’s doctoral thesis “Shame and Respectability: A Narrative Inquiry into Cape Town’s ‘Coloured’ Families through Photographs, Cultural Practices, and Oral Histories (c. 1950 to 2016)” leaves off. An investigation into how family photographs offer a lens through which we may view what it meant to live through apartheid, occupying an intermediate space in terms of race, colour, language, religion and social and cultural status, and how these impact on a sense of belonging in a post-apartheid South Africa, in particular, Cape Town.

Each participant wore a pocket with handmade doilies by Nadia Kamies.

A big thank you to Nadia Kamies for everything, Philippa Namutebi Kabal Kagwa for holding the space, Cape Town Medical Museum for hosting us, Oskar’s Ghost for the great pictures and Bettina Schouw, Karen Schmidt, Zara Allie, Michele Burgers, Ayesha Mukaddam, Bongiwe Maliwa, Joshua Cohen, and Scott Eric Williams for reading with us!

The gathering was made possible through Luca School of Arts Breakout Fund.
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Wendy Morris (1960) is a South African artist and researcher living in Belgium. Morris is professor in contemporary arts at the University of Leuven and LUCA School of Arts, Brussels, and senior researcher with the deep histories fragile memories research group.
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