l  u  c  r  è  c  e

B L U E   N I L E

22nd of December 2019

Ileana Niki Liaskoviti, 
Sophie Nys & 
Alexis Tronchet

Sophie Nys, Seven Beans, cyanotype on canvas, 2019.

Sophie Nys with Ileana Niki Liaskoviti, Alexis Tronchet & Olivier Bellflamme,
Solstice ritual for Tekle Haymanot, cyanotype on paper, 2019.


Alexis Tronchet,
Dwelling the Blue Nile banks,
sugar cane, canvas, and Blue Nile’s soil, 2019.

It was the month of December. On our third day deep in the sacred monastic forest, we were told the story of a saint.

We were four. After following a long path, we sat in the shadows of the southern section of the circular church. A man approached us with an Amharic poem. It was a getem, which has he meaning of a rhyme but can also imply the rhythmic, meaningful expression of an idea.

Your flight is mingled with birds, Tekle Haymanot, chosen from the son of ancient people. I admire the height of your knowledge.You are building a house of faith without pillars. Your eyes are blind; your legs cannot walk.

It was the story of a saint.

He was one and lived his life towards the fulfilment of his knowledge, of his spiritual exertion. A figure described by words and in paintings, with sixteen wings and one leg, like a bird, and like a house without pillars. In a vast field, he stood still, on one leg, for seven years, bearing human souls, being nourished and fed by a bird; only one seed at the end of every year.

This is the song we learned from the trees. It happened in the forest. Being one of the last remaining woodlands of endemic biodiversity, it surrounds a place of worship where every species, rock and water become holy. Where cutting trees, ploughing the land and keeping cattle is forbidden. In the middle of a vast, dry deforested hinterland. A place where tree canopies catch the hymns and prayers, and if the song is forgotten, the land itself will die.

This was the last place we were before we found ourselves on the banks of the continental river, at its origins - among the glistening mountains. An elevated land.

It was the 22nd day of December. While walking among the wet rocks washing the seeds, it was a song we heard that said that this is where Thomas lived and is the place he taught his donkeys the secrets of resurrection. We were four, and after the long night, we waited for the long morning. The moon sits in the middle of the celestial sky among the clearing clouds. We stood still in line, waiting for the light, giving interpretations of our surroundings and of our spiritual strivings.

You lime of the forest, honey among the rocks, lemon of the cloister, seeds in the river.
Like the fruit of the valley, the water of paradise.
Flower of the sky, wrought by  divine craftsmen; her eternal heel trod me down.

Text by Ileana Niki Liaskoviti

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