Meandering Bones

Fellow in the field of performing arts Ivana Ivković explores her long-lasting and persistent fascination with cartography, navigation, movement, and divergent notions of atlas through a series of posts that reveal trajectories and references of her developing project.

This series is published on the occasion of the publication of Solitude Atlas, a special publication mapping 25 years of Akademie Schloss Solitude through letters, essays, poems, short stories and illustrations of its former fellows.


Recently, I acquired a compass, the primary tool in grasping one’s bearings when lost. I am not lost, but I am mapping out a route for myself.

By way of a curved path.

Unlike humpback whales, humans have trouble following a straight line. Lost in unfamiliar terrain we often end up walking in circles, even reversing our course. A recent study suggests that this veering from a straight course is the result of accumulating noise in the sensorimotor system, which, without an external directional reference to recalibrate the subjective straight ahead, may cause us to walk in circles.

In a sea of meandering bodies the camera gazes at faces of marching women, but even more so at their necks, sideways and from the back.

The back of the neck is a fascinating area of the body. We only see it when the person is facing away from us, when the person is vulnerable to us, perhaps hiding the full vehemence of their emotions from us, or even refusing to communicate with us. On the other hand this offered vulnerability, this exposure to us, speaks of trust.

The women are marching together, forming the »absent,« the »only one,« the »desired« of a fractured body politic, forming a liminal space where social formations can be reconfigured and reconsidered.

»When we nod, we use the upper or hingejoint, made by the head itself and the atlas […]. It is just the same contrivance as we see in a mounted telescope; it is required to move the telescope up and down, as when we want to point it to a star which lies higher or lower than another.« – from The Extractor; or Universal repertorium of literature, science, and arts. Vol. 1, 1828-29.

Another atlas. This one a bone occupying a liminal position at the top of our spine, a threshold of sensory processing, the hinge joint that allows us to look up at the stars. And to listen.

Through our bones we listen, and we overhear our own voice.

Douglas Kahn wrote about »phonographic deboning.« Prior to the invention of sound recording a person could only experience their own voice in large degree through bone conduction.

One’s own footsteps cannot be deboned. Sound resonates through our skeleton, steps are carried up through the spine and into the cochleae, by way of the atlas vertebra. We hear the reverberations of our meandering march in our bones.


Listening & reading list
William Basinski & Richard Chartier, Aurora Liminalis, 2013.
Douglas Kah: Noise, Water, Meat, A History of Sound in the Arts, 2001.