dot 23: trajectory


Trajectory tells us a great deal.

– Andrew Solomon –

Olafur Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist who works with natural elements such as water, light and temperature. As these elemental materials are themselves unstable, the trajectory of the experience itself remains in flux. According to Eliasson even cities change as so do their trajectories.

Andrew Solomon, a writer on culture, psychology and politics, speaks about the importance of what a trajectory reveals. In the context of depression it is vital to remain aware and be connected to one’s own trajectory. Knowing when a relapse is imminent allows for preparation in order to go ‘into the fight.’ Knowing that what might present itself as the truth when in fact the ‘truth lies’, is what gives insight. Solomon calls this seeing truly.

I was recently reminded of what seeing truly is in the exhibition Fragile Histories, Fugitive Lives by the artist Keith Dietrich (South Africa). Being made aware of the trajectory of 1220 early colonial trials at the Cape of Good Hope during the 1700’s and the horrific sentences that were meted out against transgressing slaves, truly helped me see the truth for what is was. Flayed out across an elongated surface the lists of names of such slaves are visualized in Dietrich’s artist book. Interspersed between the names are images of organs that ‘serve as reminder of our own fragility.’

Installation view: Fragile Histories / Fragile Lives
Installation view: Fragile Histories / Fugitive Lives                     Photo: Sonya Rademeyer

Whether we are slaves of our pasts or of our own mental spaces, the fragility of what it means to be human remains the same. According to Solomon what is essential is to ‘seek meaning’ in states of fragility.

Having attended the funeral of a friend’s sister over the weekend, I wondered anew about the projection of apartheid’s trajectory. Images of Keith Dietrich’s artwork came to mind as we passed individuals and families still living in dire circumstances. Fragile bodies still living their lives because of a fugitive history. Dietrich writes:

Considering that the history of … South Africa, is one of fragile bodies being subjugated, I have used these bodies as metaphors for the pain and suffering that our country has endured.

I would add to this that South Africa is still suffering. If a 20 year post-apartheid trajectory hasn’t changed everyday life for the majority of South Africans, how long will apartheid’s trajectory trail?  I recently read something the acclaimed musician and producer Pops Mohamed said as he referred to South Africa: ‘We’re like a pregnant country. We keep on giving birth to good things, bad things, whatever it is … but we are here now.”

We are living our trajectory. In flux.



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