The Situated Line

above Michele Elliot installing beam, 2013, and
above & below: Boni Cairncross Peforming the Situated Line 2013

 above: Michele Elliot beam, 2013
thread, nails, joists 400 x 500 x 10 cm 

 above: Brogan Bunt A Line Made By Walking and Assembling Bits and Pieces
 of the Bodywork of Illegally Dumped Cars Found at the Edge of Roads and Tracks
 in the Illawarra Escarpment, 2013 walking, angle-grinding, ink-jet photographs, 
pen drawings, blog posts, variable dimensions

above: Ruth Hadlow pulang 2013

pulang [to go home]                                                                                                                                     Ruth Hadlow

Writing is like weaving, the crossways movement of the line shuttling back and forth, slowly building a form, connecting a series of ideas. The narratives here are drawn from texts written over the past 18 months in various locations; writings which attempt to trace a sense of being in a present moment, wherever that moment might occur. I wrote ‘being at home’ and then ‘being home’ just now, in the sentence above, but it is more slippery and more difficult than either of those might indicate. Being present, wherever, for a moment – the moment of the writing – is perhaps as close as one comes to home when living between worlds. The texts of pulang, of the bigger project, are written in the present tense, reflecting this movement of writing, of being in the moment, while also referring to the way bahasa operates in the present tense, not past or future. One becomes used to it; it is only when attempting to apply the idea to English that you realise how the present tense is rarely used in spoken or written language. In this language we tend to frame most things in the past tense – already gone – or the projected future – that which is proposed or planned.  Writing on the gallery wall is another form of present tense, pencilling the thread of text back and forth, making in the moment, on the large white page of the wall with its sense of unbounded space.

The narratives which make up the motifs are just a paragraph or two, cut from the body of the larger narrative, then put into repeat to make up the form. Each form has a specific narrative, all of them written in Timor last year. So the each of the cecak/gecko are made up of the one narrative, likewise the kolo/birds, and so on. Only the buaya, the mirroring crocodile, is comprised of two different texts as if, perhaps, to mirror the experience of existing in two different worlds. The written motifs all come from West Timorese textiles, of which I have quite a large collection now, after 15 years. Some of them are from textiles woven by Ina Lalak, and originate from the small cross-stitch pattern book which she used, gleaning images from the European scenes and translating them into her language of sui, the long-float supplementary weft specific to the Besikama region.[1] She lent me the pattern book to copy some years ago, and I made a work (Patternbook) using images also drawn from it, mirroring her act of plucking discrete motifs out of the clichéd scenes. Her interest in the unfamiliar motifs makes sense to me – we are all drawn to that which is exotic through difference. And clearly the grid layout conventional to cross-stitch designs is logical to a weaver, another version of the warp and weft structure. This movement back and forth between worlds, between languages, between desire and the creating of work, lies behind pulang. 

The narratives tell different stories: some told to me, some created by me. Attempts to capture something of a particular moment, in situ. There (in Timor). In this (English), operating in the style of that (Indonesian). Reflecting something of how stories are central to life; that life is comprised, to a large degree, of interrelations between people, with stories as the major mode of exchange. So, the motifs are composed, comprised of narratives; the narratives de/scribe, in/form the motifs. They exist as the pencilled residue of an act of narration. In repeat. For stories are told and retold, just as weavers throw their shuttles repetitively, creating the same motifs over and over throughout their lives, with minor variations, almost unnoticeable from one to the next. It is through the repeating of stories that they are formed, shaped, comprehended and understood. It is through the weaving of certain motifs that a weaver articulates her identity, over and over. Her belonging to a family, a clan group, her ancestors, and a place. Place being somewhat less important, more incidental than the rest.
The cardboard forms are motifs drawn from my own inventory. From earlier works made over an equivalent period of time. More or less. A parallel movement to that of a weaver, who draws from the repertoire bequeathed by her mother, aunties and grandmother. So, pulang is constructed of motifs drawn from there, and motifs drawn from here. A bringing together of worlds, which overlap slightly as several of the motifs – ayam/chicken, rumah/house – originate from Ina Lalak’s pattern book and became part of an earlier body of work. A bringing-together of worlds, using several languages and operating across several planes, into a state of coexistence which is not united; just as one cannot easily hold both worlds together at any one moment. To bring them together engenders a state of confusion, as the rules belonging to one have no place in the other; language, conventions, norms and familiarities are other to each, and for those of us who live between, it is always in this kind of state of dual perspective.
The threads which extend from the cardboard motifs out across the wall mimic the structure of warp and weft, the cross-stitch grid; echo in their soft looping the processes of making, the pauses and provisional moments between one movement and the next, as work is constructed, dreamed and made. The lines of thread and lines of text speak to each other, whispering languages which are other to this one, or to that one; languages which speak to the eye and fingertips rather than the ear. Making their own sense of be/longing, of living between worlds; of going home.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.         

[1] See www.ruthhadlow.net/patternbook for an extended conversation about this pattern book.

No comments:

Post a Comment