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Geophagy 1
21 June 2018 -
11:00 - 12:30
St Jorishof, Korte Spinhuissteeg 3
Conference Room
Free entrance


NIAS Seminar

Artist-in-Residence Masha Ru analyses the theoretical background of the phenomenon of geophagy, the act of eating soil and soil-like substance, such as clay and chalk. The particular focus is on pimba, white kaolin clay from Suriname.

About the Seminar

A genuine interest in the topic led Masha Ru and Ielyj Ivgi (intern Masha Ru Studio) to Suriname where they carried out field research and collected first-hand information while interacting with the local communities. They have learned a lot about pimba, starting from its digging and production, and ending up with cultural engagement and getting to know local Winti spirituality. They exchanged with the community in Suriname by swapping pimba with various similar clays and soils from Russia and Ukraine. Several interviews were conducted and the whole project was recorded by both video and photo documentation. They have collected more than twenty types of pimba, which have been brought to the Netherlands. In Suriname, pimba is often eaten as a snack and is especially valued by (pregnant) women. But this special kind of edible clay is not merely a deep-rooted element of the everyday life. On a spiritual level, it is an essential component of Winti. Masha and Ielyj have learned tha the connection with the earth – represented by a life-giving deity – is considered crucial because earth gives power and helps reconnect with one’s own self. The visit to Suriname was covered in local media: DWTonlineUnited News, and STVS Suriname.

This seminar is part of a two-day workshop and the project “Pimba. Closing the gap” which examines connections and interactions between cultural practices, science and policy through contemporary art practice and visual storytelling.

The project is funded by the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (AFK), NIAS and the Society of Arts-KNAW. The research and presentation in Suriname were carried out with the help and support of Readytex Art Gallery, Marcel Pinas / Tembe Art Studio and ARTCEB Botopasi.