It has to be this way¹˙⁵ in 'Reads Like a Book' Cricoteka (Kraków Poland), 23rd January 2015 - 15th March 2015
Transcript of Dave Burrows lecture on It has to be this way¹˙⁵ Aspex Gallery, November 2010.
[Extract] It seemed that Lindsay Seers' work traces a line between
narratives of loss, isolation and disappearance and the narratives and processes of connection and multiplicity
(and a consciousness of connectivity and matter ‐ life as a vital force). I thought I sensed a tension here
between narratives of finitude and disappearance and those of connectivity and multiplicity which hinged on
forgetting, or on losing one's self.
But then recently, when rereading my notes, a thought occurred to me: perhaps what I view as instances of
trauma in Lindsay Seers' narratives might not be so. Or at least, a more dynamic relationship between
disappearance and loss and connectivity and multiplicity might be drawn. When dead images come alive,
when the finite is overwhelmed by the infinite, a frightening transformation can occur ‐ frightening for the
creature of habit that is ‐ which involves a violence of a kind through overcoming a fixed relation to an image.
How else would a time traveller experience the present as an effect of the past ‐ they forget everything they
know and remember everything they do not know?
There is an event in It has to be this way which triggered this thought. Lindsay's mother finds her step‐sister
Christine in hospital suffering from amnesia. She shows Christine a series of photographs to see if her memory
will return. We are told that Christine arranges the photographs like Tarot Cards. Now Tarot cards in skilled
hands reveal or predict the past or the future, and may even shape the future (through suggestion perhaps,
but even so the cards have their influence). At least we might agree that Tarot Cards might be said to open up
potential interpretations of the past and future, if not the potential of the past and the future. To treat
photographs as tarot cards is to free them from their function as records of events and things that have since
passed and disappeared. And this episode might be an indication of how Lindsay Seers, who lives, as I think,
almost entirely in the imaginary, might think of the potential of the photographic image. This is why the lens
produces consciousness for her.
This almost mystical aspect of Seers work is somewhat surprising and complex. How to explain it and its
relation to her practice? It is best explored through the artist's identification with John Dee and his works. For
in answer to my final questions concerning the photograph she replied: 'I like Dee's hieroglyphic monad'
John Dee was an alchemist from the time of the Tudors who spoke with angels. Seers makes reference to, and
includes an image of Dee's hieroglyphic monad in It has to be this way. What is a hieroglyphic monad? In 1564,
in a mystical state, Dee produced hieroglyphic symbols intended as representations of the reality of the
monad, a singular entity from which all material things are said to derive.
Lindsay asked me (though I suspect she already knew the answer): ‘Can a photograph be like a hieroglyphic
For Lindsay Seers, the photographic or film document would be just this then, a special symbol or sign. An
indexical sign no doubt but one that registers a cosmos from which all material things emerge. This explains, I
think, why Lindsay Seers rejects the image as a fragment of the past that is always viewed from the vantage
point of the present, as habit demands. She rejects this structuring of time as insufferable and deadly and
embraces all images as living things connected to all other images (to all other things). For Lindsay, it has to be