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sit in the search

I was privileged enough to be listening in on a conversation between William Kentridge, Phala Phala and composer Nhlanhla Mahlangu speak about "Pepper's Ghost at the Centre of the Less Good Idea" which is currently showing at the virtual National Arts Festival (vNAF) until 30th of July 2020.


I was interested in understanding how they had created their flee-flowing physical experimentation and, particularly, the use of holograms, something that has tickled my imagination for many years. A well-known illusion trick, it has great potential for creating imaginary bodies which I can see in the line of my own practise, and the webinar allowed me to learn from probably the most experimental centre in South Africa. The Centre is well known for pursuing the concept of ' the less good idea' which speaks to explore the peripheral idea rather than the initial, more obvious one.


However, in the end the technique intrigued me less that the conversation around creative practise and it was particularly Nhlanhla Mahlangu's contribution that sliced my thinking. He questioned how some works 'just work' and others 'just don't', and what makes the difference between two actions that might be almost identical? How can one action be the right one, and another action not? But it was Mahlangu's speak around sitting in the search that really pinned the conversation for me, and the meaning around that. My interpretation of it is quite physical and I imagine it as a state of physical discomfort, perhaps because of the associations I have of nursing bodies-in-pain. I understand pain and intense discomfort. To even sit next to someone in severe pain is difficult enough...


It implies therefore a choice to stay with that which is not easy and remaining with the inability to really know, really see your way out of a though/feeling process. It's being willing to allow the whispers of my internal ghosts, my own holograms, to say what they wish.


And for me to listen, honour and learn.



screen grab from the webinar

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2020 / Sonya Rademeyer        ©Sonya Rademeyer. All rights reserved.