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The Hannah First Collection, 1919—1949

1 March 2012

This is a favourite piece, albeit one only seen in China so far, where it was produced by the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai in a bilingual form. Thanks to the support of the Australia-China Council, and director Sally Sussman. I’d love to present it in Australia.

The Hannah First Collection, 1919—1949 is a monologue cum performance essay. It charts the writer’s quest to discover and reconstruct the life and journeys of the early-to-mid 20th century anthropologist and traveller, Hannah First. From her childhood in Amsterdam to her student years at Oxford University. From her initial fieldwork in the villages of Central Europe to the shores of the Dead Sea and the markets of Ceylon (as was) and Singapore. And finally to the idyllic, palm-fringed Tikabar Islands in the Western Pacific, and the book that made her name.

The writer draws not only on photographs, notebook entries and artefacts, but also on her own life experiences—finding considerable symmetry between herself and this intriguing and improbable anthropologist.

There’s more about The Hannah First Collection, 1919—1949’s Shanghai outing here.

From → Essays, Monologues

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