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Moving Through Second-hand Sources (p.s.)

Expanding upon the complex and intriguing life of the South African poet Ingrid Jonker.

Onomatopee 42

Moving Through Secondhand Sources (p.s.) starts from the complex and intrigueing life of the South African poet Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965). Hendrikse uses Jonker’s politicized character as a vehicle for his investigation of the interlaced vectors of history, biography and mythology. His research is shown in this exhibition and a book, which will be released and presented by Onomatopee in issues during this exhibition period.

Moving Through Secondhand Sources (p.s.) starts from the complex and intrigueing life of the South African poet Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965). Hendrikse uses Jonker’s politicized character as a vehicle for his investigation of the interlaced vectors of history, biography and mythology. His research is shown in this exhibition and a book, which will be released and presented by Onomatopee in issues during this exhibition period.

Jonker published several important works in the fifties and sixties and became politically involved when her father, Abraham Jonker, as a member of the Nasionale party, became chairman of a board responsible for implying new censorship laws on publications and entertainment. Ingrid Jonker firmly opposed to these developments and attacked her father publicly. The years after she experienced difficulties publishing her work though she got published, amongst others, in Drum: a “black” magazine. In 1963 Rook en Oker (Smoke and Ochre) her second collection of poems was released and with this book she received the most important literary prize of South Africa. Only a few years later Jonker ended her life.

Jonker’s life and part of her work, show the complex political and social reality of South Africa in the sixties. After her sudden death, Jonker became a cult figure, but after the sixties she was forgotten. In the mid nineties Jonker gained new interest after Nelson Mandela read the poem “Die Kind” during his address at the opening of the first democratic parliament. In the next years, Jonker was embraced by different groups of South Africans, especially by the Afrikaners that were looking for icons from their troubled past.

Hendrikse searched in South African archives for more information about Jonker, but most of the texts available appeared to be released after her death and didn’t seem to give a truthful impression of her person. In recent years South African history is written and rewritten rapidly, and within this rapidly changing society Jonker became a character in movies, plays and books by others. Within these, parts of Jonkers highly mediated biography are often “forgotten” or simplified.

Hendrikse decided to create a work that starts at this point of friction. He invited four South African and a Dutch writer to write a contribution for a book that fictionalizes the story of Jonker five times. The writers received different sets of pictures of interiors where Jonker used to live, where she worked or other places of importance to her. For this Hendrikse collaborated with photographers David Southwood and Melanie Hofmann. The authors were asked to use these interiors as references for the story: as surroundings (or scenery) where the story takes place, or to use elements of the pictures to define their story or fictional character.

The presentation at Onomatopee will slowly change its form, starting off with a spatial arrangement that includes a number of works that Hendrikse created in the legacy of the South African writer. In the first phase of the exhibit, Hendrikse will create the “conditions” in which the several elements of the exhibition (presentation, discussion, works) will take place.

This scenery is of equal importance as the works themselves. Hendrikse adds elements that determine the space: functioning as artifacts’ but at the same time the elements can be used to frame other works within the presentation at a later stage, or to emphasize or undermine a yet to be added element or work.




Onomatopee 42, Paul Hendrikse, 2013

Inventory of Possible Narrations

€ 22.5

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Inventory of Possible Narrations revolves around the life of South African writer and poet Ingrid Jonker, who committed suicide in 1965 at age 32 and who has grown to become an icon in her native country after the fall of the Apartheid regime.  Jonker became a public figure of mythical proportions, a symbol in the identity defining process of South Africa.

Contributing writers: Mark Behr, Ingrid Winterbach, Ilse Carla Groenewald, Michiel Heyns and Basha Faber

Even though Jonker was one of the first significant female authors of the African continent, Jonker only published a small number of books and texts which were originally written in Afrikaans.

In the fifties Jonker became politically involved when she and a group of befriended writers vehemently opposed a law imposing censorship on art, publications and entertainment. Her father, writer, editor and Member of Parliament for the National Party, who’s policies included apartheid and the promotion of Afrikaner culture, was appointed chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for these laws. After some media-covered incidents between Ingrid and her father, she had difficulties publishing her work in the prevailing climate  of that time.  In 1963, however, she managed to publish Smoke and Ochre, her second volume of poetry, and won South Africa’s most prestigious literature prize. After her suicide, she fell into oblivion.

Since the end of Apartheid Jonker’s identity has largely been adopted and given meaning by interested parties. Biographers, actresses, writers, filmmakers, admirers and politicians write and rewrite Jonker’s story, turning it into something ghostlike that keeps on haunting the present.

This anthology of short stories starts at that point. It focuses on Jonkers politicized and ubiquitous character, and uses it as a vehicle for investigating history, biography and mythology. Four South African authors: Ingrid Winterbach, Michiel Heyns, Mark Behr, Ilse Carla Groenewald and Basha Faber from the Netherlands, were commissioned to write a short fiction that starts from the projected figure of the poet. Next to her biography the writers were each given a series of images of interiors of places were Jonker used to live, write or where she and her colleagues used to meet during the fifties and sixties. These series of photographs were used by the individual writers to embed the narration.

Inventory of Possible Narrations was edited by philosopher Benda Hofmeyr and visual artist Paul Hendrikse and is the final part of an ensemble of works with the title Hauntology of Smoke and Ochre that was developed by Paul Hendrikse between 2009 and 2012. It consists of several intense collaborations with actresses, writers, photographers and philosophers and resulted in a performance, printed matter, a video installation, texts, slide works and, finally, this book.

Editors: Paul Hendrikse and Benda Hofmeyr

Authors: Mark Behr, Basha Faber, Michiel Heyns, Ilse Carla Groenewald, Ingrid Winterbach
Proofreading: David Levey, Sophie Burm
Translation: Susan Massotty
Graphic design: Sarah Infanger
Photography: Paul Hendrikse, Melanie Hofmann, David Southwood
Printing: DZA Druckerei zu Altenburg GmbH

This publication was generously supported by: The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, Stichting Stokroos, Bijlevelt Stichting, the Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa and the Province of Antwerp, Belgium


110 x 195 mm / 4.3 x 7.6 inch
Paul Hendrikse and Benda Hofmeyr
Sarah Infanger
16 pages full color glossy photo's, rest in black/white text
dust-jacket behind frontpage and backpage
David Levey, Sophie Burm
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