Stones Have Laws

Stones Have Laws

Various, 111 Minutes | 6:30pm | Saturday 29 June at UQ Art Museum

Opening out onto the Caribbean, the South American region of Suriname was colonised by the English who, through the Treaty of Breda, exchanged it with the Dutch for New Amsterdam. Dutch Guiana’s wealth was born from chattel slavery, its labourers kidnapped from West Africa to tend to their owner’s cotton, sugar and coffee plantations.
As slaves escaped into the Surinamese Rainforest they re-formed new tribes—the Saamaka, Okanisi (also called Ndyuka), Pamaka, Matawai, Kwinti, and Aluku (also called Boni)—developing creole languages of indigenous, colonialist, West and Central African tongue, and animist beliefs that put their history in contact with their new environment. In 1762 the Maroon tribes, through guerrilla warfare, forced the Dutch to a peace treaty that saw the Maroon interior given sovereign status, a century before slavery was ended in coastal Suriname.

Anthropologist Kim de Rijke introduces this screening, contextualising these two works of shared ethnography and how they place object and subject on the same level in their exploration of the social and environmental context of the Saramaccan Maroon people. Stones Have Laws is the last in a free film program responding to UQ Art Museum’s Second Sight: Witchcraft, Ritual, Power exhibition and is accompanied by wine and refreshments.

River Rites
Ben Russell | 2011, 11 minutes
Limned by rock a single shot takes in a sacred site on the Upper Suriname River; the minor secrets of a Saramaccan Maroon animist’s everyday are revealed as time itself is undone.
Courtesy of Light Cone

Stones Have Laws
Lonnie Van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan with co-direction from Tolin Alexander | 2018, 100 minutes
In Stones Have Laws, the Saramaccan Maroon people explicate how they live with the forest, demonstrating the procedures to consult ancestors, gods and forest spirits. Against this lies a history of slavery, colonial and capitalist structures.
Developed through the participation of the Maroon people, the performances and re-enactments of their stories, songs and rituals mark out a space between fiction and documentary, revealing the film’s mediation of the Maroon people and their own mediation of the world.
Courtesy of Lonnie Van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan


Unrated 15+

This free three-part film program—Spellbound—examines magic as a form of agency. Preparation Rituals explores magic as performance, and performance as control of oneself or others. Black Magic Cannot Cross Water presents four constructed iterations of group ritual. And Stones Have Laws presents two works of shared-ethnography in which the Saramaccan Maroon people of Suriname enact how they live within the forest—amidst rocks and rivers—demonstrating their procedures for consulting ancestors, gods and forest spirits.

The first two screenings begin at 2pm and 4pm respectively, while Stones Have Laws begins at 6:30pm with an introduction from anthropologist Kim de Rijke, and is accompanied by wine and soup.

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