Performance 1: Proposal for THE BOOK OF HOLES

‘Proposal for THE BOOK OF HOLES’ is a performance-lecture, which extends and develops the themes explored in the solo exhibition ‘History [TBC]: Refocusing the South African War’ (see Council Chamber). As with the other works on exhibition, the performance-lecture focuses a contemporary lens on the South African War (or Anglo-Boer War) of 1899-1902, situating it within present-day decolonising South Africa and a legacy of history-writing marred by erasure and exclusion.

Cast: The Reader; the Lecturer.
Artefact: WO 32/8061 [THE BOOK OF HOLES].

Performance notes: The Reader is seated at a desk, in front of the closed solander box, facing the audience as the lecture begins. She opens the solander box. She removes the paperknife from its custom-built tray, by gently inserting her finger under the tip of the blade. She places the knife alongside the box. (All the while, the Lecturer speaks.) Donning the cotton gloves, the Reader lifts out the book, and proceeds to page. Intermittently, she picks up the knife, and uses it to sever the uncut seams. She puts down the knife, closes the book, and removes the gloves. These are left lying on the desk. She returns to her seat in the audience. (The lecture continues.)

  • Ticket Price: R40.00
  • Genre: Talk
  • Duration (minutes): 30mins
  • Release Date: July 15, 2021 15:00 - July 31, 2021 23:59
  • Language: English



Maureen de Jager is an artist-researcher, with a practice-based PhD in Fine Art (Kingston University, London). As an avid maker of objects and writer of performative texts, De Jager has a particular interest in the spaces where text and object mesh. Her creative practice – which encompasses archival research, book arts, sculpture and installation, performance-lectures, and writing-as-praxis –often reflects on South Africa’s traumatic histories as sites of erasure and uncertainty. Her recent focus is on the South African War of 1899-1902, in regards to its imperialist underpinnings, its subsequent mythologies, and its residues and traces in a decolonising South Africa. De Jager has exhibited and presented her creative practice both locally and abroad (Stockholm, Paris, Cambridge and London), and her work is held in various collections (including Washington University Library). Her PhD exhibition was hosted by the prestigious UK National Archives in June 2019; and she has contributed solo exhibitions to the National Arts Festival on four occasions (2002 Fringe, 2006 Fringe, 2008 Main and 2012 Main). De Jager holds the post of Associate Professor at Rhodes University, where she currently serves as Head of the Fine Art Department, as well as Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.