Between Words and Images, an interactive sound installation at the Iziko Rust en Vreugd museum, is the result of collaboration between curator, Ernestine White and poet, Toni Stuart. The installation dramatises the imagined experiences of an unknown woman, as illustrated and narrated in the late 18th century travelogue of French explorer, François Le Vaillant.
The perspective of the voice heard within the space, places the listener in the position of being both a key role player and witness to an act of violation. This ‘recalling’ of an individual experience through poetic voice presents an alternative version to the standard narrative; and by making audible her once silenced voice, the colonised ‘Other’ becomes central.
Le Vaillant travelled through southern Africa’s Cape between 1781 and 1784 and resided at Rust en Vreugd during his stay at the Cape. The venue serves as the most appropriate backdrop to unpack this specific narrative. Between Words and Images is a site specific work that takes into account the venue’s rich history and connection to Le Vaillant.
This installation is a product of a multifaceted collaboration between Iziko Museums of South Africa and the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Curating the Archive at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. It serves as an important component of Ernestine White’s final project for the university’s Honours in Curatorship programme.