thotseat: himali singh soin
18 december 2017
1 of 12: Inverted Map series
Himali is a writer and artist based in London/Delhi. Using metaphors from outer space and the natural environment, she constructs imaginary cosmologies of interferences, entanglements, deep voids, debris, delays, alienation, distance and intimacy. These post-dystopian futures are characterised by an ecological loss, a loss of home and an ultimate belief in the radicality of love. Her speculations are performed in audio-visual, immersive environments.
"all the failed pieces to my house."
S: Tell TOMBOY a little about yourself and your practice.
HSS: Because my parents are travellers by profession, there was always a narrative of voyage and I was always using text, language and literature as a starting point within my work. When I came here [to London] I really didn’t want to be read as an Indian artist, or a South Asian artist, or an Asian artist- so I found outer space- as a place that is ripe for poetry and metaphor. [My practice] is to do with alienation, and I explore ideas around distance and intimacy both romantically as well as in terms of ecological ideas of how much we can see or how closely or further tangled we are with how we live.
S: Could you talk more about the theme of loss in your work? What do you mean by an ecological lossand/or a loss of home?
HSS: The ecological losswould most directly link to the work that I’m working on now. I went to the Antarctic and Arctic Circle this year, in order to now work on a book and series of performances. Now, it seems super indulgent and far out and icy and extra-terrestrial and why would anyone do that? There’s a visual of climate change that you can’t see living in London or Delhi or anywhere else. While it’s a climate change narrative, I’d never want to talk about climate changein a direct way. So, there’s something about being able to talk about love and loss and distance - with a particular person, or an idea and then finally home because I am a complete nomad.
S: Looking at your video work, I’m especially interested in their form/composition. Could you explain some of the choices you make when it comes to presenting a type of bifocal view?
HSS: With Radar Level, the text is actually meant to be performed live. Radar Level as a term is a palindrome and the entire video goes half way and then turns back on itself. The idea of the two circles is questioning the viewer into who is looking at who. Who is the viewer and who is being viewed? In addition, there's this idea that there’s a palindromic relationship taking place between the video and the audience itself.
The idea of these reversals is also because the material is set in one of the oldest geological landscapes in the world. It compels us to think about how we imagine the world before us. Does it correlate? Do we have to imagine it through ourselves, in which case we use this technology to do it? These [sounds] are modulated dinosaur sounds and found sounds from NASA’s vibrations of Saturn’s rings. These are all technological imaginings - what are the vibrations of Saturn’s rings? NASA somehow modulated this sound in order for us to hear it - does it exist? Radar Level [in particular] questions the realities of these things but there’s also a kind of reversal of time.
Meanwhile, the performance is two women in a semi-erotic movement, and it’s unclear to what extent this intimacy is being played out. The text is located in these two women having this exchange.