dot 11: no-man’s land

no man’s land

an indefinite or ambiguous area where guidelines and authority are not clear: a no man’s land between acceptance and rejection.


Douglas Repetto describes the area between art and science as no-man’s land.  Repetto is the founder of Dorkbot which is an informal club of artists, techies and geeks in New York. No-man’s land is also the area Julian Muller ascribes to those seeking their faith outside the structures of the traditional church arena. In his book Geloof anderkant Sondag (which loosely translates to ‘Faith the other side of Sunday’), Muller describes those in no-man’s land as having little in common with one another. What they do communally share, however, is confusion and the inability to express the transitional space they find themselves in. No-man’s Land has no language.

This intersecting, transitional space without words has echoes that arise from a much deeper self, and uncomfortably takes back to what is feels like to be socially marginalized. In my case because of my sexual orientation which is probably why I’m reading Julian Muller’s book in the first place. In the traditional church arena there is neither the language nor space for people like myself to fit in. This in turn, reminds me of when I was once asked by an interviewer whether I regarded myself as a contemporary South African artist? Her article was about my artwork that intersected art and science. I was slightly taken aback by her question at the time, simply because her question implied that there was no recognizable space for such work within the South African art landscape. A place between acceptance and rejection?

So why am I writing about no-man’s land now? It is in response to an article by Alexander Matthew I read in The Times this morning . Entitled Once more with feeling it describes the curatorial practice taken by Darren Levy in Perspective 1, currently showing at Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town). The title signifies Levy’s practice in that ‘he has loosely woven together works that he feels are connected by a “quiet sensibility”. To me this is refreshing and a clear side-step away from predetermined meaning. More importantly though, it indicates that understanding and connections are made in spite of the lack of language for those caught in in-between spaces. Matthew describes such non-verbal connections using words such as ‘hints’ and ‘resonance’.

Perhaps it’s another way of saying that words aren’t so important after all for those living in No-man’s Land.



For more on Perspectives 1 see:







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