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Alexandra Hughes - thoughts

Open Door residency

A persistent pressure eventually bursts a line. Leaks through cracks, fluidly spills and mixes with matter to form an unaccountable, uncontainable mess. Is this where the wild resides? In the mess? Through the crack that a leak finds, going beyond and between the structures we inhabit and that inhabit us? What then could happen in the encounter of this type of wild, what new meanings could the unknown mess bring, I wonder?  


I came to ACA, with the intention to begin to explore how water is present in Space, naming the project as Extraterrestrial Liquid.  I am interested in Water as a critical molecule and condition for life, thinking to draw out the ontological intimacy between humans, Earth to Outer Space. I am also thinking about Water and Fluidity as an expressed quality of experiences and encounters that traverse, allude and collapse boundaries of human senses, knowledge, perception, imagination, geographical locations, material bodies, structures of time, measurements, dimension and technological and material mediations (to name a few). To echo a question from essay, Thinking with Water: An Aqueous Imaginary and an Epistemology of Unknowability (2012) feminist theorist, Astrida Neimanis, asks, ‘What can water teach me about the goal of knowledge?”

Degrees and modes of knowledge were brought to the fore in this first weekend at ACA with the group of artists selected for the Open-Door Residency circulating around a telescope, tables, fires, power-point presentations and inside an inflatable observatory, collectively seeking to observe, contemplate, share and debate our belief systems and approaches to understanding our relationship to the stars, planets, the wider universe and thinking on the potentials and limitations to how we locate ourselves with and to, ‘the beyond’.


One afternoon, I found myself with a few other residents dowsing for water. I questioned how it works and wondered if my body, as a container of water, inherently or instinctively knew where the water lay, thinking on the phrase, ‘water attracts water’ (later I discovered related term, ‘Ideo-motor Movements’, to mean muscle movements caused by subconscious mental activity).


Reflections on my initial processes in this residency include, photographs of the River East Allen appearing as a metallic vein. A quick video piece /sketch of footage of throwing rocks onto ice, a transparent surface revealing a dark space of fluid and vegetation below, shows a lapse between sound, image and movement. A photographic image captures the alignment of myself to a tree and the moon. Quick pen drawings made during discussions, visualise ideas for possible installations and objects that show hybrids and perforations of surfaces and images. There are two words in my head that I heard come together over the weekend: BLUE AND DARK.


After this first weekend at ACA, I am left wondering where the encounter of ‘beyond’ really resides. Resonating with my current thoughts, is the term ‘Planetarity’, defined by theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, as, “the planet exceeding and alluding complete human control”. Spivak goes on to say, “ ‘beyond’ is also lived, it is also of us, with us, through us, alongside us…there is no overarching knowledge that could contain it, because by definition it is in us and beyond us.” Spivak (2003)


So, in thinking of the streaming uncontrollable flow of fluidity between myself, environments and ‘beyond’, with the opportunity to return to ACA and when the ice has thawed, I have the definite aim to jump in a plunge pool I hear exists somewhere along the river.  I would also love the chance to utilise the ACA gallery space simultaneous to working further in the observatory, developing a fluid mess of stuff into an immersive installation, which brings attention and questions our contemporary epoch, the complexities of human experience and considers how ‘wildness’ and ‘beyond’ can be encountered.

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