LORE OF THE LAND
Lore of the Land is a photographic exhibition exploring the spiritual, cultural, and legal relationships between San communities in Namibia and the land with which they live.
Through a collaborative portraiture series in two communities, women’s stories of menarche, birth rituals and generational connection to place are surfaced; and through a visual exploration of the materials and relationships of daily life and healing rituals in the Ju/’hoan village of N//homa, and the !Xun village of Luhebu, a living lore and law becomes visible.
This exhibition has emerged through a collaborative research project involving !Xun youth activist Kileni Fernando, legal anthropologist Dr Saskia Vermeylen, and photographer Luke Kaplan, as well as various San communities in Namibia, looking at new ways of representing land claims of San communities which does justice to an embodied and spiritual sense of living law.
All photographs: Luke Kaplan.
Research and words: Kileni Fernando, Saskia Vermeylen, Luke Kaplan
Project concept developed collaboratively by Kileni Fernando, Luke
Kaplan Dylan McGarry, Ivan Vaalbooi and Saskia Vermeylen
Projected funded and supported by: UKRI/ESRC, Transforming
Education for Sustainable Futures (Bristol University), Environmental
Learning Research Centre (Rhodes University), the Namibia San
Council, and the National Arts Festival
Kileni Fernando is a !Xung speaking San woman. She is a co-founding member of an indigenous san youth organisation called ǁAna-Djeh San Trust (AST). She completed several short courses on marginalization & inequality, as well as a diploma in legal history. She has also volunteered as a community facilitator for the Women’s Leadership Centre Project: “Speaking for Ourselves, Voices of the San Young Women”. In 2017 she continued to be a voice for San as a curatorial development consultant for the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre on the West Coast of South Africa. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree with the Open University of Tanzania.
Luke Kaplan is an artist based in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, who works primarily with photography. His practice concerns itself with landscape and history, in particular ow the identities of people and places are formed through and in relationship with each other over time; and with the parallel inter-forming relationships between camera, light, photographer and photographed. He is also a researcher and PhD scholar exploring the of confluence of creative process, ethics and justice.
Saskia Vermeylen is a legal anthropologists interested in legal pluralism and living law and has worked for many years in Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe on cultural heritage and ancestral lands. She is also specialised in phenomenology and uses the concepts of ‘stranger’ and ‘exile’ as a theoretical impulse to include an ethics of care and responsibility into the law. More recently she is also interested in the aesthetics of law and has used curation as a critical enquiry to reform space law and is exploring how photography can mobilise a new relationship and dialogue between law, politics, and ethics.