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Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, 'UMBILIC research' (work in progress), 2020, digital collage.


archives that float

an archive of the throat

spoken, swallowed, sunken, choked.

the journeys taken on boats

lives living lived

surviving

afloat



the wrongdoings of the past cannot help but drift themselves to the surfaces of our present, presences seen or felt, conversations had or thought out.

i have embodied a sense of floating where i am pushed and pulled by the currents of time…like water, i too have become a container for the Black subjugation of history; ebbing and flowing through space. i am interested in the possibilities of water as it sits/flows as an archive of and for Black history. the ocean: an instrumental tool used within the transatlantic slave trade, colonisation, empire and migration. the ocean: a container filled with liquid memory, an amniotic sac that provides for and holds the world within it. water is the home of spirits; Mami Wata, Ezilie(/Erzulie), and Water Kelpie - to name a few. these writings are experimental musings inspired through viewing the works of Ayesha Hameed and Evan Ifekoya, as seen in the (Extra) Terrestrial Currents digital programme, as they relate to Black Feminist Geographies [1] and Black Atlantic study. [2] within this interrogation exists the hopefulness to create further considerations and meanings within the terms;

Hydro-Criticism [3]: the oceanic possibilities as influenced by human intervention, now and historically. it brings together various disciplines and their explorations of the ocean.

Hydrofeminism [4]: the relationship between humans and water - anatomically and geographically.



time as it moves

is moved

exhumed





are there ghosts who hide amongst us?

who haunt the land

shapeshifting

lying beside us

drifting

and who guide us



ezilie whispers [5]

‘the singularities and pluralities of humanity.

for those who seek equality,

who face

the complexity

of

racial identity

femininity

masculinity

non-conformity

sexuality,

it is all but

a temporality.

mimic water’s fluidity.’


those spirits of time

who speak in rhyme

and who guide us.



the ocean will always remember

but will the ocean forgive and be forgiven?

rises and rises, as it fails to forget

carries with it the regret

of its many ghost ships

the countless trips

undertaken across the atlantic.

import export

capitalistic desire

harbours, docks, ports, the clyde

sugar, tobacco, coffee, tea

ships transporting crimes across seas

we monumentalise

capitalistic desire

reprise statues

water is but a memory in disguise



if i wear the sea will she wear me?

both of us wrapped up in pollution, toxins, shells and bodies.

if i care for the sea will she care for me?

oceanic dreams of escaping decay

…and if the bottom of the ocean spoke, what would it say?

dreams of Drexciya:[6]: an imagined landscape/geography/space

and it’s’ possibilities

of a bittersweet utopia, the (dis)placement of race

archives sunken

that never got the chance to be swallowed for consumption

and that exist in their own domain.



perhaps heaven can be located at the bottom of the sea….






how does the hold of history feel beneath our feet?

warm water, feels sweet

hands touching hands

exchanging tales

i enter or exit this dreamland

set sail




***

[1] Hawthorne, C. Black matters are spatial matters: Black geographies for the twenty‐first century. Geography Compass. 2019; 13:e12468. https://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12468

[2] The Black Atlantic Book - Paul Gilroy

[3] https://read.dukeupress.edu/english-language-notes/issue/57/1

[4] Neimanis, Astrida. ‘Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water.’

In Undutiful Daughters: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivitiesin Feminist Thought and Practice, eds. Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni and Fanny Söderbäck. New York:Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

[5] Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders - Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley

[6] Why Drexciya took Detroit electro underwater, Resident Advisor, video, 2018


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Evan Ifekoya, 'contoured thoughts', 2019, 4:41 minutes. Courtesy Obsidian Coast and LUX
Screenshot 2020 08 18 at 11 43 42 small
Ayesha Hameed, 'Black Atlantis: the Plantationocene', 2017/2020, 22:49 minutes. Courtesy Obsidian Coast.



***

Natasha Thembiso Ruwona is a Scottish-Zimbabwean artist, researcher and curator. Natasha’s artistic practice is research based and investigates racialised spatialisation (in line with Black Feminist Geographies) via the processes of writing, digital art and performance.

(Extra)Terrestrial Currents is an online programme of artist moving image, sound and text, presented by Obsidian Coast. It consists of a screening programme with artists Thirza Cuthand, Ayesha Hameed, Evan Ifekoya and Himali Singh Soin, a commission by artist and composer Hannah Catherine Jones and a reading list by scholar Kathryn Yusoff.


Obsidian Coast is a space for unhurried artistic and curatorial practice, envisioned as an otherworldly destination opening unforeseeable horizons. Based in in Bradford-on-Avon, they host exhibitions, residencies, events and a library project with a commitment to artist moving image and environmentally sustainable and feminist practice. https://www.obsidiancoast.art/