Untitled (or Sisterhood is Global: and other little stories; an inventory left hanging)

Untitled (or Sisterhood is Global: and other little stories; an inventory left hanging)
by Sara Spies


My contribution to a shrine to women’s work consists of a loose index of my female familial lineage and female scholars / activists who have contributed to my ‘education’ about the world and my place in it. There is no particular order to it, I have left it ongoing, hanging, literally. Both my grandmothers were gifted seamstresses, I am not. I have clear memories of both of them being selective about the type of merino wool that they used to knit. The wool is a small homage to them.

You will see that the hanging index consists of personal information, commentary, reference and more generic ‘data’. I have collected and collated information from my family and from the internet. I have also accessed historical archives (National Archives of South Africa / NASA) to trace some of the gaps I have found, especially in my female family line. Most of the gaps remain but others I have filled in, sometimes with conjecture.

To my mother, aunt and by extension, both my grandmother’s (Susara Catharina Potgieter Garisch / nee Potgieter is still alive, but Elizabeth Wilhelmina Spies / nee Potgieter is no longer), I have asked the following questions:

Describe your/your mother’s occupation.

What did you/she imagine that you/she would be as a child/young adult?

What do you/does she spend time, energy and possibly resources on as part of your/her pastime?

I was interested in seeing if there were some traceable connections between all of us, if there was something that was passed on, as both malleable but also moulded through time. Perhaps there is.
The non-familial references in the inventory indicate female scholars and / or activists that have affected me at different stages of my life. I have attempted to frame some of them in a slightly more personal way through online sourcing, but luckily there is a limit to intimacy and privacy in this sense. I would have liked to have asked them the same questions that I asked my mother and aunt.

Sara(h) Spies (11 January 1982 – Capricorn/Year of the Metal Rooster) is a choreographer, curator, movement-based artist and lecturer, often working collaboratively with curated and practice/research-based public programmes. Sara has created choreographic work within international gallery settings and through her interest in the potential of movement scores, she has published a series of articles that focus on time-based performance within exhibition spaces/settings.