I’m in a narrow plane, wide and edgeless. I hear all the sounds of the universe, the echos infinitely feedbacking. Even voices I cannot relate to are mine here – we become each other as we tune into the frequency, no us vs them. The sound waves run over our body, washing the anxieties of the day away, assimilating those energies to sustain the constant hum. I am suddenly present here, but also still in my body in the UK in 2018 – a separate line grows from the primary root of time. This is a spell to tackle collective apathy. Together we plant pixelated seeds which blossom into HD visions of our future. The program is shifting. We feel the web, the strands that weave us back to each other, only we’re too preoccupied with our individual threads to see the larger pattern forming behind us as we move forward.
My work explores vibrations – their effects on our body, energetic exchanges, states of consciousness. My practice is multi-media/-tasking, playing hopscotch with form, recycling creative debris (words, video, sounds). Trying to mediate my conflicting identities, like being Russian and queer. Having been raised in England and Holland by Russian parents has left me longing for a physical home that I will never have because there was never a single definition thereof. This is why a sense of community is important to me, so I focus on creating a feeling of interconnectedness in my work, a feeling of belonging. The torus is a repeating figure in my practice, which in its simplest form resembles a donut and shows how energy moves. It is expressed in micro/macro structures of our reality, from apples to the magnetic field around stars, and served as a formal foundation to develop patterns in pen and paint, which were later digitised into GIFs and used in videos. These became maps/diagrams for a conceptual exploration of the torus, shifting the focus to the body as it is the centre of experience. I embodied the patterns through dancing and singing in music videos and performances, and invite anyone willing to share this experience by using their own voice in workshops. The decision to lead a workshop in my final piece was inspired by the ones I attended this year, including a performance/writing one by Liv Wynter. I ran my first one collaboratively at an exhibition organised by my friends called Watt HertZ? at a local nightclub, which consisted of breathing, chanting and vocal improvisation exercises. Trance is part of the process and is the desirable outcome to shift people’s awareness, create a disruption in the narratives forced on us, to share the magic of exploring and creating your inner world, and how the world outside is affected by this.
My practice is process led and filled with ritual, feeding my intuitive voice so it may speak louder/clearer, following what makes me feel vulnerable because that’s when I know my work means something to me. Though the forms change, my process remains relatively similar – automatic expression, layering and editing. The song Just Look Outside, for example, began with layers of vocal improvisation – the composition/lyrics came after. Its video followed a similar process – layering clips of improvised dancing, then playing with opacity and keying effects. I treated footage of myself in a painterly way, using my identity as material. I particularly enjoy sound and its immersive qualities – it can create a space without separating it physically. A fluid/dynamic process of creation is more important to me than making a ‘good art object’ because I cannot distance myself enough from my work to view it without being overly critical or unbiased. I imbibe my creative experiments with intentions, for both personal and collective ends, and purposefully obscure them with abstraction, e.g. the layering of footage/sounds. Collaboration plays a big role in my art-making – conversationally, curatorially and on distinct artworks. These considerations fed into the decision to host vocal workshops – opening up my creative process so that others can feel the empowerment in/the enjoyment of the process of doing. You don’t have to have skills, you can just make noises that feel good, and there will be someone out there who thinks that sounds good, even if it’s just me.
The works address the growing disconnection between humans and the planet/each other/themselves, and this is something I realised through reading “Testo Junkie” by Paul B. Preciado. They describe the witch hunt as a one of the causes of this growing alienation as it is deeply linked to colonisation, slavery and the emergence of the “pharmacopornographic regime” – in short, the system of institutionalised oppression we live under today. This is the context I want people to consider my work from. Magic, creating change through will/moving thought energy into the physical realm, is a form of queer care to me. I believe art is magic – the creation process, its potential influence. The work of contemporary artist Ayesha Tan-Jones inhabits a world similar to mine, combining nature/ecology/technology, queer identities and magic, sharing the belief that magic especially powerful for queer people and womxn because “it allows us to be in control of our own healing”. I used to want to change the world, now I just want to focus on reducing suffering. I do this by offering pleasure and emotional release. I believe ego-loss experiences remind us that we’re all connected rhizomatically, which in turn can lead to an increase in empathy and reduction in othering. Donna Haraway’s concept of sympoeisis/being-with, outlined in “Staying with the Trouble” is my ultimate goal. Whether or not this can be achieved through art at all, let alone by the work of an undergrad at a degree show, is obviously debatable, but I like to look at it as a chain of affect. If we all create small ripples of change in our local communities, together we can make a large impact.
* “Ayesha Tan Jones.” Interview. Babyface. November 27, 2017. Accessed May 02, 2018. https://bbyfce.com/community/ayesha-tan-jones/.