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“…it [the tree] pragmatically expresses the materialization of multiplicity (represented by its succession of boughs, branches, twigs, and leaves) out of unity (its central truck foundational trunk, which is in turn connected to a common root, source, or origin).[1]

Memory Keeper is a collaboration between Sonya Rademeyer (video) and Garth Erasmus (visual artist & musician).

Memory Keeper can be viewed as an elder, or cultural elder, that stands witness to both time and memory. Questions arise as to what may have been witnessed by this Evergreen Elder: What is the untold narrative of this place? What significant cultural depths do the roots connect to? What are the archival memories?

With these questions in mind, Garth Erasmus responds to the original sound to the video piece with only one given directive: “ask questions instead of making choices”, hereby making clear reference to composer John Cage’s creative process of serendipity and chance. With this in mind, Erasmus creates a haunting sound track based on seven drawings created by Rademeyer. In the drawings, Rademeyer plays with both the recorded sound of the wind as well as tracing the greater movement of the moving branches.

Memory Keeper takes its title directly from Memory Keepers: District 6- conversations  with National Living Treasures, where South African cultural elders participate in an open conversation around memory from a post-Apartheid perspective.[2] This project also seeks to explore cultural memory, albeit obliquely. 

[1] Lima, M. The book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge (2014) Princeton Architectural Press, New York. 

[2] In this publication, Keith Adams interviews South African who grew up in District Six: soprano Ruth Goodwin, artist and poet Peter Clarke, poet James Matthews, poet and playwright Gladys Thomas, actor Bill Curry, artist Lionel Davis, and jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin.Portraits of the contributors are created by Garth Erasmus.

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