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Paper is a Leaf That Will Destroy Us in its Fall

Sarah van Lamsweerde

The meaning of a word is nothing other than the totality of its uses. – J.S. Madumulla

In the oral tradition of the Lega – a group of people from the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo – the proverb string plays an important role. An average string carries 40-60 miniature objects, each representing 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.

Sarah van Lamsweerde’s project Paper is a Leaf That Will Destroy Us in its Fall explores this past tradition, and questions what it would mean to develop such a tangible ideographic tool in this age of virtual images and communications.

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 explores to what extent our individual tales are collective and how (un)common our places in the world are. Existing and imaginary metaphors emerge through strangely familiar but clearly contemporary objects, tales and actions, creating a speculative view on what forms of knowledge can be extracted from interactions with our environment today.More than making sense of this world, this performance looks for connections both mundane and mystical by examining seeds of thought, burning dorito’s and other breaths of fresh unknown.

11 November 2015


12 November 2015


13 November 2015


14 November 2015


15 November 2015


The performance will take place 11-15 November at Veem House for Performance with on Sunday a book launch of the book Paper is a leaf that will destroy us in its fall, followed by an exhibition and book presentation at Onomatopee in Eindhoven from 28 November (opening) till 3 January. 

In 88 pages the publication, designed by Celine Wouters and published by Onomatopee, includes photographs of objects and corresponding proverbs of the Lega community, together with proverbs that Sarah and her team of performers Esther Mugambi and Alex Zakkas created. Furthermore the publication encompasses texts that offer insights to the projects by Sarah van Lamsweerde, such as the essay “Use your legs and you shall eat” by Tijs Goldsmidt, a speculative impression on Sarah’s research by Alessandra Saviotti and a text by Norberto Llopis Segarra about his work “Monsters”.

Sarah van Lamsweerde

Co-creators and performers:
Alex Zakkas, Esther Mugambi

Dramaturgical assistance:
Zhana Ivanova

Lega proverb and song coaching:
Pierre Tombo

Scenography, props and outfits:
Liza Witte

Sonic inserts:
Piet-Jan van Rossum

Graphic design:
Céline Wouters

Production management and curatorial advice:
Kris Dittel

Production asistance:
Anna Frijstein

BUDA, Onomatopee