Marlene Dumas

Deadlines and Airmiles

(or – The first time I flew in an aeroplane
I thought everyone had a parachute under
their seat, in case of emergencies.
I’m still upset that it ain’t so.)

If I’m too late
for your deadline dates
for ‘Transit’
it’s because I’ve been in transit
for too long.

I’ve been on airports doing my
too often
cultivating my feelings of multiple
personalities and double spying.

Indulging in romantic medieval thoughts
of chivalrous departures,
flying is such a sad suffering
for the sake of noble causes.
While my friend Jan calls it
much more abrupt
‘Fucking up your mind
and fucking up the ozone.’
I take the taxi to my room and phone
to say I’m safe and to hear if all is well
where I am not.
And then I’m too tired to read, too tired to
reflect, too tired to think, too tired to see
and then I go and install my work in
whatever the place is called, where art is
being placed, for other travellers to see.

Deadlines and Airmiles. First published in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Text | Politics (of Art), first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014 [written for a special issue of Parachute (Fall 1995) on the theme of transit].