Mmabatho Thobejane

Kitso Lelliott, I was here and she was m

Kitso Lynn Lelliott, I was her and she was me and those we might become (Installation View), 2017

Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit Lauren Mulligan

I love excavations of deep time as that which is something found within us, or at least alongside. This may make me anthropocentric, in front of the people, but I’m bored of artistic explorations centred around entering a wilderness with which one is not in sustained relation. 

(If relation and deep time go together, where is this most legible for you?)

I get a sense of deep time when my friend tells me about her dream. She says, in her dream, she is standing in a line that stretches eons ahead of her and eons behind her, made up of all those she was and those she may become. I think of deep time and I think of my sister being called toward universes in directions I cannot even pinpoint. Manifesting in the present as somehow both my sister and ancestor. She tells me she dreams of herbs, of medicine and of ancestral lands. Deep time feels embodied when I’m told I dream of and travel to the same lands. 

(I am still in the throes of this revelation and Lelliot’s work is a soothing and affirming companion.)

(What does I was her and she was me and those we might become make legible to you?)

1.  Deep time as in the universe, the stars, constellations, fossils. A compression of time that lands us here. Deep time as in, the land knows you intimately and over years you have bent, curved, surrendered even the corners of your spirit (especially the corners of your spirit) so you may know it too. Deep time as in vast and everywhere, yet contained. here. Deep time as deep memory. It cannot help but contain contradictions; cannot help but impel us toward  relation; each other.  A place patient enough to let straight lines form with the complete and unconcealed intention to curve them over millennia. 

2.  If not located here, Blackness at least reaches for logics of deep time. In the throes of modernity, blackness exceeds its categorical logic, reaches instead for thickness. 

The work, in general, unravels me. Affirms. Demands me to understand time and memory as more vast and circular than largely encouraged (because if time is circular and vast, progress is a farce, maybe). If I am to understand time as infinite, without end or beginning, I am led to imagine myself and those I love in such a place. And perhaps, maybe, if I am able to step into this place, even just for a second, I may also step into freedom, love and the unbearable ecstasy of all our full selves.