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© Sarah Vanhee


Sarah Vanhee

The Ties That Bind

An endless cycle of giving birth, nursing and feeding the children, plowing the land, praying… That was life for many of our grandmothers, toiling as invisible labourers until their bodies were worn out. To liberate them from this burden, Belgian writer and performer Sarah Vanhee summons the spirits of her maternal ancestors for a final encounter: an intimate conversation that’s both necessary and celebratory.

Ghosts appear where there is suffering that needs to be heard and named. Alone on a stage inhabited by voices, Vanhee is joined by spectral apparitions, shadow images, and the words of children, imagined in collaboration with puppeteer Toztli Abril de Dios and sound artist Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti. Linking the female body, the domestic world, and her ancestral land, the play is an ode to matriarchal relationships. Mémé—which sounds like m’aimer (“to love me”) when spoken aloud—also gently encourages us to rediscover our capacity to care for others as for ourselves.

General info

About the artist

© Phile Deprez

Sarah Vanhee (Brussels)

Each project undertaken by Sarah Vanhee generates disruptive spaces that upset the established order, expand the horizons of artistic disciplines, and enable improbable encounters. She is an artist of relationships in all senses, always focusing attention on that which history does not show us and on voices that have not been heard.

Full biography

Media Coverage

« En redonnant une valeur à ce qui n’en a plus, du moins à nos yeux, l’artiste belge provoque une prise de conscience de l’impact de notre empreinte sur la planète, une sensibilisation encore plus grande que toutes les campagnes écologistes et autres appels au respect de l’environnement. »

Samuel Pradier, JEU, 2018-05-27, about Oblivion

« L’artiste donne de la visibilité à ce qu’on s’efforce de rendre rapidement invisible. Et pour un instant, elle redonne du poids aux produits et conséquences de nos actes, peu importe leur forme. Ce qu’il faut de doigté pour loger tout cela dans les petits intervalles contenus entre quelques déchets. »

Chloé Gagné-Dion, Le Devoir, 2018-05-27, about Oblivion


“With Mémé, I’m trying to understand the nature of this cross-generational suffering. Part of the play concerns the history of silences in my family, that I collected and stored, whose pain I inherited. These silences are also those of the landscape of my childhood in Flanders.”

Read the interview