The Dead Ones

21 Feb

A woman stands at a podium. She reads from a script, softly and calmly. To her left is projected a series of family photos.  Margie Fischer shares with us her experience of clearing her family house, once the last of her family are gone.

It’s a wonderfully generous sharing.

Dead Ones Margie 2

And it’s fascinating because it encapsulates two of the fundamental features of our world; our materialism and our sense of lost time. Were anthropologists from another time and place to find this performance, it might be their Rosetta stone. (Another time and place – see how I struggle to disentangle myself?)

As Fischer decides what to keep and what to discard from the now empty family home, she’s only too aware of how objects are imbued with value through their connection with people, and that this stored value will slowly leach away. She realizes there’s little use in keeping much.

As we are shown photos of family members who have passed, I’m reminded of the strangeness of the medium. Do photos capture a moment? Or do they stop time? Stop it like a dam stops a river? Stop the flow of a river, and is it a river anymore?

Our culture is obsessed with movement, with the passing of time, with history. And the trouble with history is that, in it, people go. In every culture people die. In ours, they are gone. And photos, often our most treasured objects, can do only what objects do; they retain value for a while, and then they fade to mere history.

Fischer does not make all the philosophical and cultural generalizations I’m making. Her story is personal, honest and powerful. Powerful like the gentle flow of a river.

Veronica Kaye


The Dead Ones by Margie Fischer

Seymour Centre til 22 Feb

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