October slows us down
The last couple of weeks have made me realise that I have not been taking care of myself, that I have been internalising a lot from the past which is affecting the way I work/speak/interact now - to a point where even speaking or getting out an honest flow of words has started to feel like ‘work’ - work loaded with capitalists standards of production that we have been ingrained with. In the run up to this event, I was constantly questioning / thinking about the irony of feeling guilty of not ‘working’ towards ‘preparing’ for this event, for a Kneed event.
How can I facilitate a conversation on behalf of Kneed if I am not able to embody Kneed?
But because I am not able to really embody the essence of kneed, I need to be facilitating these conversations?
How do we talk about kneed?
I woke up in the dark. Pillows smashed up high against the wall with my hair pushing against the shelves, their flatness caving my head in darkness and making me sweat. One thing tormented me. It swam around in my head tumbling and summersaulting as it strained itself to be resolved. But when I opened my eyes everything vanished. Obliterated from my memory and mutating into fear. The fear that grows the further it moves from tangibility. The more distant it moves from an understanding, the more my head pulsates. Over and over, I try to string-to gather, the essence of this thing, growing in my head. no grounding, no face, no name, no language.
With every fumble of the duvet it strengthens.
The core of this thing has fallen, obliterated from my memory. That gap has been filled with a fear fed by a distrust of uncertainty, its cloudy existence punctuated by every turn sleepy of my head, resistant. It strengthens with every fumble of the duvet.
Walking around the next day a stranger to my body and a guest within my head, I roam, in a zombie like condition. But its no apocalypse now, its simple desks, seats and screens that surround me, completely the same. Nothing has changed but everything is different. Trying to remember that unidentifiable thing I was eaten by last night, I explain to you that I have been occupied by ‘stress dreams’. Pulling this intimacy out of my own head and into actuality, you agree with me. You have felt this thing also. A torment we shared last night as we let ourselves loose into our subconsciousness.
That evening, around a table of spaghetti bolognese I tell my dad about last nights events, to which he says ‘That happened to me!’, very different but the same. A gap filled with a distrust of uncertainty, its cloudy existence punctuated by every turn of the head, resistant. With every fumble of the duvet it strengthens. 4am he wakes, bolt upright, he walks down to the cellar and fiddles with the boiler. A rational approach, he thinks, to dealing with such darkness. As if the boiler in the cellar was where this stress were situated, and emitted to our sleeping bodies like a radio broadcast. He confesses, ‘such tinkering did not restore clarity’, dismayed. Mum chimes in, ‘I had those dreams!’ and sighs, ‘but I was worried about work tomorrow, so I know why they were there.’ - But mum! I think, its not just you! Its an epidemic! its an occupation! They’ve taken residence! They’re more than just dreams!
This morning around coffee and ginger biscuits at 9:30 am I suggest that we have been collectively occupied by the force of the stress dream. A force that disembarks at night and disappears in the day. It moves so fast that when we open our eyes we don’t know its shape, its face, its name, its language. To which they all agree - they have indeed been occupied by, a thing, a darkness, a sweaty tormenting gap. Filled with a distrust of uncertainty, its cloudy existence punctuated by every turn of the head, resistant. With every fumble of the duvet it strengthens. We are not safe in our sleep! I think.
This afternoon as I sit at my desk, my tutor and I and discuss how likely it is that the tutors will be going on strike again this year. My tutor tells me that we shouldn't use the word 'scab' as it doesn't apply to artists, and they'll get offended. We question whether there has ever been collective solidarity between artists and if they really can be considered workers. But our talking begins to run tangents: we leave the formal and enter the intimate. Mouths and minds attuned to the unconscious and the sensed. 4am wakes, she tells me, have been scarring her nights all week. Fears about to many students and inadequate resources, ring around your head. Notes of impossible space allocation and impending isolation are played like strings on an out of tune guitar, draining your ears, theres no prospect of silence. There is no escaping the chores of the day by night and inadequacy begins to propagate a gap. A gap filled and fuelled with a distrust of uncertainty, its cloudy existence punctuated by every turn of the head, resistant. With every fumble of the duvet it strengthens.
Conclusion; what you, me, we, have in fact been occupied by is work, a collective illness that dries out our nights and makes them sleepless. Our subconscious and are thoughts are like washing machines, turning over and over, as we try to find clarity in the minefield of cloths and water. A minefield of repetition, exhaustion and alienation that is understood as ‘the day’. Despite this, we do not strike, we are not one force. We spend our days alone then wait to be collectively colonised by the stress dreams of the night. We haven't yet worked to undo these dreams generated within capitalist cycles of surpluses. How can we learn to survive within the radical spaces offered by the dream, rather than the gestures of work following us into our night.
How to talk about kneed:
in a context specific way - kneed doesn't have a permanent definition that can be applied to everything - but its definition, intention and function is contextual according to the systems of care and support that are needed in the spaces that it exists in and the people that it interacts with. While pregudices, oppressions, exhaustions and unpaid work continues to exist within the art world, then we need KNEED.
stress pulls us apart.
We organised an impromptu coffee morning this morning because we are tired and lonely and stressed and not seeing each other
I felt better and more together and laughed and talked about the news and protest plans to go to the Rojva demo to stop the Turkish Invasion. But also saw people I haven't seen in ages. I've felt very stuck and therefore been alone for a while. Its been cold and rainy and I am panicking. Stress pulls us apart.
“In some ways I have never really exhaled from that day. Holding now is the default state.” Says Christina Tran, in her zine ‘Release’, which is now part of the Wellcome Collection Library Archives. It’s hard for me to pay attention towards my breath when my attention is guided towards it. The act of guiding makes it more about the language of breath rather than the act of breath itself.
“Alberta Whittle’s film, ‘between a whisper and a cry’, seeks to challenge conditions of racialised abjection and find new methods for refusal. It speaks of memory, trauma, tensions between the land, the sea and the weather which reveal the precarity and privilege of geography. A chief linkage in this refusal is the cosmology found in Kamau Braithwaite’s research on tidalectics.” (from https://luxscotland.org.uk/event/margaret-tait-award-announcement-and-screening-alberta-whittle-between-a-whisper-and-a-cry-at-gff19/#targetText=between%20a%20whisper%20speaks%20of,whisper%20and%20a%20cry%2C%202019.)
With Tidalectics, Brathwaite crystallizes our terrestrial “obsession for fixity, assuredness, and appropriation” and mirrors instead the fluctuating tides, the rhythmic soundings of the waves, and their curling ripples as they wash onto the shores. If dialectics is the way that “Western philosophy has assumed peopleʼs lives should be,” then Tidalectics involves a range of different readings and interpretations—for water is a transitory element, and a “being dedicated to water is a being in flux.” Tidalectics merges the anchored with the itinerant and moves back and forth between being waterborne and touching land. It allows us to think of hybridity, cross-cultural syncretism, incompleteness, and fragmentation. The influence of the ocean is not restricted to the waters and aquatic beings, it affects land and terrestrial life just as much—as a source of food and as a threat when sea levels rise.
(text from Tidalectics exhibition pamphlet, citing Franco Cassano, Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), 18 ; Kamau Brathwaite, ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey (New York: We Press, 1999), 34. And Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter (Dallas: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 1999 ), 6.)
2.2. ‘Between a whisper and a cry’ starts with breath. Loud and soft, somewhere in
between. Inside and out, somewhere in between. The room waits. The act of waiting becomes an active act. A temporary waiting: the way waiting is temporary, we are waiting until we aren’t. There is a difference between waiting for the film to start and waiting after the film has started for the film to start, the space of breathing, the space of preparing, the space of entering before having entered.
The first image - does it relieve me of my waiting? It wouldn’t have served its purpose to distract me from the waiting had it actively relieved me from the waiting. A gush of water, as temporary as the eye can hold.
The act of release is different from the act of letting go. One suggests a pause while the other suggests an ellipsis; one suggests process, the other suggests the end/beginning of a process. One suggests language itself, the other suggests the absence of / selective absence of.
3. My aunty once told me how the first thing she learned as an ayurvedic doctor was the 8 forms of bodily release which should never be held back, i never asked her which 8, tears, snot, sneeze, breath, burp, yawn, puke, pee, cum, poop, fart, words, sleep, sweat, desire, dreams, thoughts, saliva, sigh, hum, song, dance, run, walk, urge, hunger, aggression, violence, silence. I have known she had a tendency to be selective, the system was programmed to be selective because of the people who made it, who were made and selected by this system.
I was walking down the grassy patch on the way to Oakwood station one morning, thinking about how I wanted Something. I’m not a breakfast person, definitely didn't want food, I just wanted Something and I knew what it was and I knew I could not have it if I wasn’t able to place it but I thought if I put it out in the form of ‘I want Something’, someone or something will get it and guide me to thinking about what I want. Perhaps I didn’t care too much for what it is that I wanted, but just the feeling of wanting was so overpowering that I thought figuring out what it is what I want would take me one step closer to my Want being fulfilled - but I clearly didn't figure out What I wanted as the object of my Wanting wasn’t an object to be wanted that way.
I spoke to Jack about releasing into the world, relaeasing information into the world, releasing words into the world. He said he cries so easy ever since he had children, how he was crying throughout Toy Story 4 the other day.
Maybe it wasn’t a want I wanted fulfilled. Maybe my object of wanting was an act, the act of releasing want, to relieve myself of a want I have been conditioned into thinking I need to be wanting.