thotseat: himali singh soin
18 december 2017
Distance of the Moon I-II
S: In what ways does your practice shift, if at all, as you float between London and Delhi?
HSS: In terms of Delhi or India in general, it’ll only be in terms if material production, where I can employ people or I can have help in a way that over here [in the UK] obviously I’m not going to.
You’re right. Over here you have to give so much more to get a little bit in return, though you might be getting the best of both worlds.
Yeah! Conceptually, I can go to lectures, I can go to a random dance party that might inspire me. Everything is material.
S: What do you feel we as a community of South Asian artists need to discuss more critically?
HSS: I like staying here for half the year because I can get commissioned for performances. How am I gonna earn anything? I still have to… live! I don’t want to change my practice into making objects necessarily - the objects could aid the performance but unfortunately there’s no intangibility that exists in art institutions [in India] right now.
Where do I even begin with that question? There’s economics to it, there’s geography and as we discussed earlier, I don’t want my work to be viewed as South Asian Art. I want it to be viewed as Art.
It doesn’t need to be that, and still it will be.
I believe that the work of art itself can do all of the work for us. I really think that there’s a difference between emotional work and sentimental work but a truly critical work can also hold enough sentimentality that then moves people into understanding the politics of it. We need to be in touch with some core intuition, trauma, beauty and be so sensitive to it that the work contains it.
S: Absolutely, though it really is just getting the opportunity to showcase such a thing. That’s where the hurdle is. There isn’t the opportunity in the first place of presenting a work so impactive that it will speak for itself. I personally think that this is the core of it - seeking and providing opportunity.
HSS: Definitely. I think that one of the reasons why video and performance happened a lot more [for me] is because I didn’t have enough resources to keep making stuff. I don’t have storage space in London. I don’t have enough money to really invest in a beautifully finished product. There’s also the problem of a lot of galleries and private spaces feeling quite threatened by an overtly political piece.
A Climax of Disappointments
S: Indeed. What’s next for you?
HSS: My book, We Are Opposite Like That, is a collection of prose poetry from the Arctic and Antarctic circles, where I spent the year on voyage. It's a series of fictional mythologies from the perspective of the non-human form of life that is over than us all, and has witnessed the greats shifts of epoch: the ice.
The mythologies, though nodding at the romanticism, do not constitute fairies of monsters, but contemporary conspiracy theories, drawings of UFO sightings, diagrams of aurora borealis and poems that tell the story of the ice as an agent of decolonisation, a player in the resistance movement and it's vulnerability to an imminent climate catastrophe.
S: The perspective of Ice. I LOVE IT.