The silent sounds of the winter night
The whistling panting sound of someone breathing
Like someone angry with the gods
A night owl patiently waiting for a mouse
And in between sings her sad twilight song
I listen to Brussels with my eyes closed
Excerpt from “I listen to Brussels with my eyes closed” by Shilemeza Prins.
Watch here the video of the complete poem.
“I am Shilemeza Prince and I am alive. If you want to know more, feel free to contact me and we’ll talk” is what she would like to see written here.
Shilemeza loves socializing and that is why she wants to connect with her chat partners. She believes that only with this sense of closeness can one learn something about the other person, and only by learning something about the other person can one learn something about oneself. Shilemeza’s warmth, love of the world, and positive passion are qualities that are best experienced in person and are difficult to capture in writing.
So it’s fitting that Shilemeza Prins (originally from South Africa, active with Globe Aroma since 2006) is an artist with words. Her love for language is also the reason for her connection to Globe Aroma. Shilemeza’s mother tongue is the South African language, close to Dutch. When she came to live in Brussels sixteen years ago, Dutch was less common, including in organizations that offer collaborations to newcomers to Belgium. She was delighted when she found a place where Dutch speakers were present. That way she could continue to fully honor her wordplay in a relative of her own language.
This joy in her way of speaking is also a daily passion. In her poetry she often talks about everyday things that she encounters and finds beautiful. Shilemeza writes a lot from her belly with a positive outlook on the world. This positive character in her work gives energy. When people laugh, that energy fills the room and is passed on to others. In this way, Shilemeza refers to Ubuntu, a concept from South Africa that means “I am human through the other human”.
But it doesn’t stop there. She is convinced that it is also our role as artists to criticize and fight injustice. That’s why her poetry is also about society. “Being positive is necessary, but if something is not right, we must also say so. We have that responsibility to our children.”
In addition to her own language experiments, Shilemeza is also active in various Globe Aroma projects. She is mainly involved in the activities of ESPACE FXMME. She feels that everyone, regardless of their origin, status or age, is on an equal footing. Everyone learns from each other and is equally open to learning. A study of a subject or technique is then examined and shared by the different participants from their own point of view. In this way, the knowledge of different nationalities is transferred to each other. When someone is not at the same level as the rest of the group, they first try to bring them up to the group level. If this is not possible, the group adapts to that person’s level. This creates a nice balance where no one takes over.
One project that Shilemeza likes to come back to is “txt, is not written plain”. The project, initiated by artist Hana Miletić, resulted in a traveling exhibition in the Netherlands and Belgium in which textiles played a central role. Shilemeza learned a typical Georgian weaving technique from Salome Grdzelischvili, for example. Shilemeza’s contribution was then to write poems that express the feeling of the fabric. Her poetry was then recited by others involved in the project and this spoken text was recorded for display in the installation.
The beauty of this is that when she writes a poem, Shilemeza does not want to own the words. After formulating the composition, she sends her work out into the world. She does this by having it read by the other people who originally inspired her. In this way, Shilemeza’s work once again embodies, with generosity and heart, the Ubuntu philosophy of life.