Track by Christine Dixie

Track by Christine Dixie

Transitional Spaces

Opening speech at the Market Theatre Gallery, by Jo Ractliffe on the 16 October 2000


With this work we have been invited into the spaces of the journey, both 'actual' and remembered. The thing about journeys is that they exist in a suspended time and space; one where, as Mike Nicol says, 'the teller of the landscape is forced to adapt to a slipping world, a time between fact and fiction, between past and present, where the imagination travels upon the landscape as it moves between events'. This is the space of the 'inbetween'. And here in the gallery, as we take on this journey of a train through the Karoo during the furtive, half remembered time of childhood, we are also asked to reflect on a "bigger' journey, of our lives and collective histories in this country. See the traces of our past, delicate pointers to war, colonialism and apartheid - all carefully selected, laid bare for scrutiny.

Embedding Materiality

From the Corporeal Prospects Catalogue (2007)

A Sidelong Glance: Christine Dixie’s thresholds –  David Bunn


Dixie’s threshold consciousness turned its attention to another kind of historical project in her 2000 Track show. For these prints and installations, she sought out an abandoned siding on a disused section of Railway track over the Sneeuberg. Like the toppled and stranded monuments of the USSR, the derailed locomotives she found spoke of the past state, and the role of the SAR&H in fostering white working-class job protection and an iconic sense of white nationhood.

Rummaging through this wreckage, tracing the indistinct outlines of old slogans and logos beneath the rust, Dixie decided to reproduce in the gallery some sense of this graveyard of signs. Sides of old railway coaches were installed, with evocatively exfoliated names and messages and overprinting and frottage.

Re(viewing) Landscape

Railway tracks first started seriously stitching their way across the landscape of South Africa with the discovery of diamonds and particularly gold. A massive investment in railways by both the Boer Republic and the British Empire in the build up to the Anglo Boer War began in order to connect the ports with the mining fields. At some point along its course between city to port a railway track runs over the Sneeuberg Mountains of the Karoo. Trains stopped moving over this mountain a few years ago. Now grass grows between the sleepers and game paths following older trails intersect with the railway tracks. At one of the more remote railway sidings on the mountain, lie abandoned carriages. Each carriage delineates different periods of South African history. These relics from history that mark time are over time slowly dissolving back into the impassive Karoo landscape, like the dinosaurs that once roamed that land but whose traces are now rare finds.

In the veld around the carriages lie dust covered debris that the wind and rain has swept away. Collecting the debris and making rubbings from the carriages felt like documenting traces from ancient empires. Tracking memory down by integrating traces of imagined personal stories evoked by the debris, in between or on the other side to that of official history, became an important component in documenting these carriages.


Opening speech at the Market Theatre Gallery, by Jo Ractliffe on the 16 October 2000


In his book, "Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture', Jonathon Dollimore makes a point about happiness; that it is something felt only in retrospect; that in the moment it is experienced as something inconsequential, but on reflection, when past, it is always tied up with loss. There is a quote from Christine's diary on this exhibition which says: "all these black little boys sing under your window and it is quite uncomfortable" - so poignant a reminder of a childhood in this country, and the purity of knowing so little beyond the immediate world of the personal. And where this leaves us in adulthood - with loss and the desire to retrieve, restore and collate the fabric of this unstable and; fragile world.


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