a woman is our happy issue
Nisha Ramayya on 'Some Context', Hannah Black's solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London, 22 September - 10 December
This is a movement from a singular definite to a plural indefinite. The clear meaning understood from the context is ‘what is we’, ‘what is us’, ‘what is ours’. This meaning is derived from the object of thought—some soft toys—from which many readings are derived. Our surroundings are occupied; in relation to their occupation, they are doing the reading. We are very careful, occupied by our surrounds. There isn’t a set of comfortable seats, which has a clear meaning. We will live for a very long time, we will not read the books. What kind of people destroy books? We don’t have time to read the reused materials of ourselves. What kind of people touch plasticine objects? I have been turned into a woman; a woman is our happy issue. We move from the situation to some contexts, represented by 20,000 books that you may not read in the bath. In the path of duty, people feel able to touch me. Do not read the books. I am not as valuable, with parts duly connected, with formerly circumstance. In relation to our surroundings, for the time being, we buy oranges, grapes, and cheap flowers. We represent politically good artworks. We do not represent the good world. The ghost audience reads 20,000 books in the bath, arrives at a consensus: do not touch the plasticine objects. Participating with objects, we try not to be so easy to represent. The plasticine objects look like they want to be touched; we make a living in the bad world, we maintain life. Separated from its context, destruction as a legitimate aim for artists. The artwork is said by native authorities to imply disease, extinction, ornament; I blame myself. Do not touch the plasticine objects. I feel better about objects by feeling worse about humans. We move from the outside of the art gallery to the inside of the art gallery to the outside of the art gallery. Water descends; fogs and vapours are drawn upwards by the rays of the sun. What kind of people move from the outside to the inside to the outside in order to destroy books? What kind of people read books? Collaborating with objects, we are drawn upwards. We feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad about the presence of others. We speak quietly. The horizon of humans as the horizon of objects, we act like ourselves, we act like our kindred. The question is about the seasonableness of soft toys, which is a question of resources. The question is about the viability of books, which is a question of good order in a white room. We recognise each other, our political subjectivities; suspicion attaches to our bodies, our bodies speak in a quiet room. We affirm our bodies all the time; we maintain bad politics. 20,000 books say: ‘Let’s dematerialise.’ The books feel entitled to be in the white room. The objects are the limits of our bad politics; we refuse to take responsibility for the objects that cannot exist independently. Do not mention the thing by name, the difficulties of living in a forest. We take our places as the enunciation of a topic. We will not stay for very long. Specialness comes from ubiquity, we will feel ashamed for a very long time. Comfort as a formal circumstance; preservation as the disciplined connection between our parts. We go the last way, in which we ask ourselves: are you doing the reading? Are you watching me doing the reading? Where are you going to die?
Commissioned as part of Objects I Have Been - a reviews season in the ekphrastic mode
Nisha Ramayya's recent writing may be found in The White Review, Poetry London, and Zarf.