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They emerge from the mist, slowly, their shapes and faces only taking colours once the first sun rays appear: they look hesitant, perhaps a little shy. They are not alone, small nebulae surround them: their memories, their secrets, their hopes, often encrypted, not yet readable. They don’t speak, they appear to listen, to sounds we cannot hear, to melodies long forgotten, or voices of others, far away.

Sometime, one of them comes into clearer focus, surprised, but determined to find her way. It is then our turn to listen, attentive to the moves and gestures of the newcomer. It is as if she wishes to communicate with us, a few words at a time, often names. Eventually we know her name, and, later, that of people who matter to her. It is then the start of a journey of discovery. Where does she come from? When was she born, and where? Who were her parents? Who was her first love? Or, if there was no mercy, when did she die?

If she’s dead, already, then she may be coming, from that distant past, on behalf of someone else, her living self, or an old lover, or a child she lost, somewhere. She may be here to denounce some falsehood, some slander she was victim of, some lies people told about her life. She wants justice.

When she starts talking, we are surprised, how young she sounds, how present she is, and we want to hear more, of her life, of her story.

If we are lucky, she will tell us enough, about her life, her loves, her world, for us to write about her, to make her live again.

Photo: Christian Daniel Rauch, Danaide mit aufgelöstem Haar (Danaid with dishevelled hair), 1842-1846 – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin