Scapes is a site-specific, reflective work that draws on my memory of being adrift in the Indian Ocean for one month whilst sailing from Cape Town to Mayotte on a 32ft yacht. In this work, I explore the politics of my body as a site of knowledge and emotion whilst it comes into contact with the materials of the ocean. Drawing from the feelings that have shifted on the sailing trip I recall a natural phenomenon called Cyclonic Eddies: large circular patches of peaceful waters and clear skies that are surrounded by towering clouds and storms. It is within these circular moments of calm that the small yacht I was on could navigate forward towards its new path. This natural phenomenon is symbolic of the internal shifts that occurred within me whilst traversing these seascapes, and the effects that they still have on me today. They also point toward the probability that internal landscapes have shifted for many others whilst on the ocean for long periods of time. In this sense, the ocean itself can be seen to perform a shaping role within social history, through its effects on personal narratives housed within people whilst on their voyages.
I animated salt onto my body and then projected this animation of my body into a place within which I performed live with salt.
- performance, projection, salt, water
During time spent in Antsiranana I worked with the relentless South East trade wind (which blows constantly between May to October) and how this animates sound at a site under a large tree. In an attempt to find ways of keeping the growing network of artists alive that have come through the Africa Nosy Art Echange and the Festival d'Art Urbain in Madagascar, current as well as previously participating artists were invited to pay homage to the wind through an immersive sound experience. Past participants sent sounds or moods that I then matched with objects found around the area, hence bringing them into the presence of the gathering. Current artists were invited to interact within the space and were enticed to explore the space by collecting necessary objects needed to taste what was being served.
Jean Kamba participated in this installation by offering a silent, site specific reading of a poem he had written about his experiences that also circled around the relentless winds.
Cécile Bidaud collaborated through a taste offering that spoke to the clash between warm and cold - like a swim in the ocean on a hot day - and the meeting of cultures through history. Rum with an almond flavour and pure mango ice cream spoke to the history of long sea voyages - rum was often rationed on ships - and the delightful life-giving mangoes of the island. The slight bitterness of peach pips (giving the almond flavour) represents the complex meeting point of the two, but through it a new experience is born.
Extrait poétique de la production littéraire “Le carnet du voyeur” - Jean Kamba
«Les dires fusant du fond de cet océan aux yeux bleus et Doux
Souffles, toujours et toujours ce récital de mots inaudibles à foison
Aux Yeux miroirs
Bleu couleur qu’il offre
Miroir des dieux célestes
Bleue cette peur de l’inconnu
Peur du connu
Les lointains souvenirs ont refait surface
Reliques d’un passé douloureux
D’un présent hybride
Cette fleur des entrailles de fissures
Affaires des antres et des abat-jours rouges
Aux feuilles salies par du rouge de sang de l’hymen non nubile
De carnations saillantes humectées par les larmes de regards vides
Ici aussi les murs tombent
Comme des feuilles aux apparences de papillons
Ils sont tombés comme les hommes l’ont toujours fait
Tombé sous l’influence des souffles fusant de l’inconnu
Tombés comme les arbres acrobates le font, bousculés par des mains invisibles
Ils sont tombés
Seuls les Mokafohy savent comment et pourquoi
Ces gardiens de reliquaires détiennent le secret d’être africain
Ils sont malagasy, pas africain
Témoins de fragrances nauséabondes de lointains jardins
Aussi du goût de la rouille de l’encre du dernier pirate zebuvore
Odeurs, boulets aux pieds sans chevilles trainant des montagnes en montagnes
Goût séculaire stagnant sur les langues évangélistes :
« Geôliers, libérez vos œsophages. Buvez cette eau salée ! Cette goutte de larme géante aplatie, avec ses jambes écartées friand d’orgasme »
Étranglé par la ligne tranchante de la délimitation de la côte
Ce souffle divin est mondain
Toujours et toujours lui ce caméléon monochrome
Bourdonnant en faisant grelotter ces pavillons de pachydermes amnésiques
Toujours ce souffle fredonnant des compositions hermétiques
Des imprécations peut-être contre
Ces vents du nord
Ces grandes mains tremblotantes et ridées qui s’y échouent pour fouetter l’innocence.
Tunnel of Us
Tunnel Of Us is a site-specific project that engaged with people’s place making in the congested Tunnel Ambanidia in Antananarivo, Madagascar. This tunnel is one of two built during the colonial era and links the East of Antananarivo with the city center, a city that was designed to accommodate 100 000 people but currently accommodates over 2 million with 5 million movements in the city everyday and a further 30 000 new people arriving every month. As a result, uncontrolled urban sprawl has lead to serious electricity, clean water, sanitation, health and heavy traffic congestion challenges for all the people living within the city. Most people in Antananarivo traverse on foot or with public transport, and the tunnel facilitates this gushing of the masses as they proceed in and out of the city center. The directional flow of traffic within the tunnel seems to condense a part of the city in one place; housed within walls echo experiences and rhythms of the cities movement in an almost peaceful hum-drum meta-soundscape.
By standing still in the tunnel and allowing the sense of rushed urgency to dissipate as my lungs acclimatized to the polluted environment, I began to notice the markings on the walls; drawn into the thick layer of filth that clung to the surface of the tunnel were lines marking movement: waves from objects scraping the walls as people walked by. In between those lines, I noticed that people had drawn out their names in the grime, spending enough time in the toxic tunnel to mark their presence.
Mostly, pedestrians either rushed passed me, or told me to keep moving as I stood still. But soon I began to notice the others who also found solace in the tunnel; a small girl child dressed in rags sat up against the wall playing with stones, unnoticed by the busy passer bys; a man who was severely crippled and disease ridden seemed to prefer to walk in the road toward oncoming traffic, so they had to slow down and engage with him – a connection he might have found hard to come by outside in the busy city; and then, also, the invisible people who spent time marking their presence on the walls. Was this marking of self an act of place-making in such a busy city?
I returned the next day and began to mimic the place-makers by drawing onto the walls with my fingers, writing words that were meant to be a trigger for a further possible playful engagement. The words were written in Malagasy and translated into: travel; move/movement; me; I am; I am here; my name is; I come from; we are alive; we came here; I live here; here. I spent the day playing with lines of movement connecting to these words and illustrating some of the urban sprawl and rural landscapes that existed outside of the tunnel walls, until my fingers could not draw anymore. Upon returning the following day I noticed that some new words had been added around the ones I had left as well as along the drawn movement lines: a response from those who write.
This playful intervention that blurred the separation between life and art was a way in which to reach out to an everyday audience that was largely inaccessible through art institutions. It was an ephemeral work that only lasted as long as it took for the pollution to cover up the words again, but one that engaged with the writings of other people who used such a surface as their drawing board.