I have been thinking about an idea since being in Stockholm in March: the idea that moments of previous times and places live simultaneously in our research, through the past theories and practices of ourselves and diverse others. So that, I might be standing on the corner of a street in Oslo taking a photograph of a piece of graffiti but, in standing there and in doing what I do, I am referencing many other times and places. I am invoking the time and space of this moment and this locale, while simultaneously evoking Paris of the 1950s, New York of the 1980s, Stockholm of the 1990s, Montréal of my childhood. All while I stand in this one place, at the convergence of these singular degrees of latitude and longitude, in some random neighbourhood of Oslo. Perhaps this is an inevitable hetereotopia that emerges in the experience of urban space; brought forth by the surrounding architecture, the passing people, the meeting of cultures, and the conjuring of our own memories.
In one moment, I am confronted with my own memories and travels and experiences — my literal and figurative positionality — all which no doubt influence my reading of the landscape. I am standing on a street corner in Oslo and simultaneously, I am standing in all the cities I have ever lived and visited and read about. Imagine my pleasure at coming across this passage today in Geoff Dyer’s book Yoga for People who Can’t be Bothered to Do It. Geoff Dyer, incidentally, has been a great discovery for me this year and has provided me with so much unexpected geographic inspiration:
“If successive phases of history can be imagined as sharing a common space, then perhaps, by analogy, chronologically distinct experiences of certain places — Rome, Detroit, Leptis Magna, Amsterdam, New Orleans — also occur in some ways simultaneously. If the successive can be experienced simultaneously, then perhaps distance can be experienced as immanence. They might be tied to specific locations but, in the ‘sphere of the mind’, some experiences — separated, originally, by years as well as miles — end up sharing a single location and a single instant. Everything happens in the same time and in the same place — or certain things, certain experiences do at any rate.” (Dyer 2003, 231)
Now I have another quote, from Nick Cave, that also touches upon these ideas. But I think I might save that for another day.
Standing in a blurry reflective/reflection moment in the Göteborgs Konstmuseum, or yet: in many moments and in many museums. (Göteborg, 2015)