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9th March

My unwavering resistance to the passing of time

A doe in the creek of Sharjah. A plant growing between the cracks of an ancient rock in Andalusia. A bowl of oranges in a temple in Hong Kong. Discarded lotus flowers in a trash can in Phnom Phen. The sun setting over the sky of Malaysia.

These are just some of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken when travelling these past months.

I have an urge to capture moments of short-lived beauty: taking photos of the not-yet-withered flowers and the bright pink sky as seen from my plane. I have an equally great need to send those images to friends; only when shared with others do I feel that I have truly held on to the ungraspable.


But a performance I saw conceived by the artist Tino Sehgal put that need to capture the ephemeral into perspective. Tino Seghal does not allow for any photos or video recordings of his work. Even his contracts and agreements are not on paper but are established through conversations. 


The el Greco painting The Adoration of the Shepherds served as an inspiration for the performance, in which two young women and a toddler moved, rolled, walked, and danced with subtle gestures and gracious movements. The women passed the toddler from one to the other in a body language of caring and being cared for while they softly sang a song that consisted of just two lines. 

The performance made something enage in me, undoubtedly because I was not allowed to take a photo I felt very much involved. Having been relieved of my self-imposed obligation to capture each moment, I felt less of an observer and more of a participant. 

With that experience in mind, I sometimes put my phone aside even when a photo opportunity presents itself. Rather than taking a photo of the centuries-old tree in the patio of my hotel in the United Arab Emirates, I just looked at it while listening to the birds chirping and feeling the warm wind on my face, the sun on my hand. I tried to fully live that moment rather than capture it. 


Of course, by writing about how I didn’t take a photo of the tree I’m equally trying to capture that moment, albeit in a different way.

Only by resisting the passing of time do I give meaning to my life. I know there’s no need to justify our existence, just to be is enough. But I’m not able yet to translate that knowing into feeling. Who knows, maybe that's just a matter of practice.

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