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(Be)longing



2019–ongoing
Site-specific interventions and 35mm slide film
Texts and publication


(Be)longing is an embodied exploration of communion with the land through the process of embedding a body in the landscape. The work stems from ecological concerns that expand to urgent socio-political issues, and proposes reflections on the questions of:

Where does the migrant body belong?

What does it mean to belong to more than one place?

How do we forge our relationship to the land we occupy?

And how do we forge belonging as an internal experience at every moment?

At the heart of the project exist three landscape interventions which took place at various locations across the UK in the Summer and Autumn of 2019 in locations outside of London (Postling; Kent, Fermyn Woods; Northamptonshire & The Warren; Kent) -generating decentralised and urgent discussions surrounding migration.

The first iteration of (Be)longing was funded by Arts Council England and produced by ]performance s p a c e [

The documentation of the interventions was done through 35mm slide film by Rowan Powell.

These performative interventions became the genesis of further installation, text and performance; which were exhibited at CUSTOM in Folkestone, as part of Something Held In The Mouth curated by Madeline Hodge in October 2019.



Text, published in 2019

A poetic document of embodied landscape interventions which examine the act of burial as a way to reflect on the migrant body. This is the final invited contribution in response to the Penetrate: Translate series, commissioned by Catalina Barroso-Luque and published by MAP Magazine. Available online at MAP Magazine and below. .


The land does not reject




the land

they they the land

hold

The land holds all bodies


all bodies are held by the land

all bodies are claimed by the land

The land does not belong to bodies

bodies belong to land

The land does not have owners

The land is not a country

The land is not a nation






The land belongs to themselves



We speak to the land in mother tongue

mother tongue is not a language

it is a muscle


Land and muscle bone body speak through gravity

magnetised


land and body are one and the same



Even when the mind constructs

(obstructs


forgets

defaces)

muscle mother tongue prevails



The mind floats

the body is pulled by the earth



this is how we move

and how we hold stillness


how we live and how we die




When I think of the language that lives in my body

I feel a tight knot at the back of my mouth

Stiff sinew sinking towards my throat as it expands



My unruly tongue narrows my air passage:

To speak or to breathe?

A bind to loss

Choked in the airless effort of words



To dig a hole

—not

into another world—




There’s no other

It is this

It is here

This is here

This

This

Here

To open a seam inside the present


inside the space of time

within ancient shifting matter

To dig a hole as a way of saying I am here

This is here

This is now


inside time-space

inside the body of bodies

the body of land

the body of time space

the body of the past and of the future

Perhaps to belong means to belong to grief

and to be present in the now is to be present in grief

with grief

witnessing death


time death

land decay

erosion

to shape shift is to move through grief

to lose and to shed

in a wordless state


Each time I curled I offered my pain as a jewel

to the land

Each time the land received it and opened up their pain

to me


Here, they said, take this glimpse, a mirror, an echo


(I am held in correspondence

I am held in reciprocity


I am given what I can handle)


How much death can one body handle before it’s claimed completely?


We were circling that edge, my friends and I

(the caretakers, the hole diggers, the stewards of sunrise)


Presence requires entering a great void of immersion

where layers of the self peel away

The hardest thing is to re-emerge

dispossessed