Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is there rope or net or direction for falling?

It is lace it is landscape it is the undulations of our bodies. I am continuously moved by the ability of artists to invoke the body so viscerally without actually picturing it. I recently read a conversation with artists Ernesto Neto and Fernanda Gomes in BOMB magazine (winter 2008). Neto says: “Maybe that’s why people dance, as a way to be outside themselves; maybe not to be is more comfortable than to be—.” I am thinking dance is the place where we are completely embodied, so much so that we are able to be in irresistible connection with the spiritual, the sound, the lights, the sweat, the ether, where our bodies are synced with the communal body, so much so that it indeed feels like a leaving of self, a letting go of the individual. Is this what he means by not?

But now, of the being. I am looking at this work-in-progress from artist Lisa C. Soto’s Rodinia series. Rodinia, from the Russian родина for motherland, a supercontinent hovering on the surface of our spherish world, but before, in the beginning as we know it geologically, rodinia, rodinia, it lingers in the mouth like being in love, a supercontinent indeed, this graphite on mylar. Lace, necklace, the forest. Stones in a river. And so many islands. Or an almost dress, this new pangaea. Her fingers must be stained black from the making, from the stitching of country to country. And so many. There are 192 or 193 or 195 depending on how you count and who counts. And measures. Soto includes territories as well and perhaps other land masses unclaimed. (Are there?) Her project feels unending…that the line of her work may extend into outerspace one day…taking map-like notes on the ever-colonized stratosphere and beyond. The tracing on mylar and the cutting will likely be a forever part of her artistic process.

I love the blackening of materials. The rubbing of graphite into plastic. To proclaim territories and understandings and non-nation nations Palestines Kosovos Puerto Ricos the Lakota Sioux. Though rooted in land, Soto’s Rodinia describes a landlessness as well, where these shadow nations are primary, where darkness is everything, the blackening divine.

There is a whole set of questions I want to ask the artist, a whole set of imaginations that I want to have embodied and explained. Can she tell me how this flesh and bones will look when rome falls, when the disintegration of borders takes hold, when the sea no longer eats us? Is there a motherland even after the first? And will we be whole when we see her? Are we shapeshifted enough? Or not? Is there rope or net or direction for falling? Should we slow and linger? Or disco nap? But I already have…

And is this what we do to remember? That Pluto is not a planet? Pluto, that smallest and coldest and once-farthest from the you feel? Hear the shadow? This looking is dancing, you know.