Cape Town Art Fair

DÉLIO JASSE

THE FRAGILITY OF TIME

The record of a couple’s successful lifetime is thrown away. An Angolan photographer, informal archivist and historiographer living abroad comes across it in a flea market among piles of discarded records. He retrieves it, rewrites the narrative, giving their memory new life; the time you now see.

Time. A curious concept with many interpretations related to different aims in life. Some, attach no concept of unilinear historical progress to time. Others view time as a “non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future”.

Délio Jasse’s sense of time follows another idea of “time-preciseness”: emotional preciseness. “The past is a chain of events. It has its places that are marked in memory, just as when you travel far to an unknown area”.

What connects the artist’s ‘time’ to the ‘time’ depicted in the discarded nineteen- nineties’ holiday photos of the anonymous Italian couple in “sensual abandon” in Morocco, Tunisia and Cuba?

The Fragility of Time comes from the initial narrative of how these photographs (and other documental evidence) were found by the artist: the record of a fortunate life, deemed to be no longer of value. Moved at the invalidation of these records – from a chronological time not so far from ours – he salvages them, incorporating their time- narrative into his own: the events that marked the artist’s life – migration, uprooting, loss, dispersion of family ties, travel. These are places that enable the artist to connect with the anonymous subjects of his work, regardless of their origin. This fusion of time-narratives, roots him in the emotional landscapes of his journey, giving his work a haunting and poignant quality that transcends the time depicted in the photographs, transforming them into non-linear historical records that link time to spaces, circumstances and emotions.

The choice for this series of artworks transformed color photographs into black-white images, redressed with burnt lace. The result is as delicate and poignant as their bygone narrative.

Délio Jasse’s treatment of photography dwells in the exteriority of the instant digital image. His use of analogue processes to re(a)ddress his subjects emulates the period in which the records were made. That, allied to the artist’s ability to sense time with emotional preciseness and the fact that he does not view photography as ‘immortalized time’ and neither subscribes to the production of self-image as a projection of oneself into a ‘universally aspiring’ future, denotes Délio Jasse’s concern with the current debates on the proliferation of images, “which, according to Fredric Jameson, amounts to both a ‘dehumanizing’ or ‘derealizing’ process and a ‘cannibalizing’ of culture”.

What is the artist’s purpose in reworking these records? Building other forms of archive, of memorializing (hi)stories, participating in the growing call for the generation of new historiographies. There’s an urgency in that call and it is not “time is running out”. It is a call to a time imbued with other significance, where events do not only submit to a chronological order, but to the plurality of its meanings in our lives.