we are opposite like that – Events
Himali Singh Soin
6–15 October 2021
Forma is pleased to present a live score performance of 'we are opposite like that' by Himali Singh Soin in collaboration with David Soin Tappeser, alongside a display of new work at FormaHQ.
A live score performance of Himali Singh Soin’s 'we are opposite like that' played by the Ice Quartet.
Pairing poetry and archival material, this track recounts the tale of the omnipresent anxiety in Victorian England of an imminent glacial epoch. The disorienting fear of an invasive periphery sent shudders through the colonial enterprise, the tremors of which can be felt in contemporary times. An alien figure traverses the blank, oblivious whiteness, and undergoes an Ovidian transformation into glimmering ice.
Score + percussion by David Soin Tappeser
The Ice Quartet:
Berfy on 1st Violin
Alice Barron on 2nd Violin
Marsailidh Groat on Viola
Roxanna Albayati on Cello
The event coincides with the release of we are opposite like that - the record, available to download via Taku Roku, Cafe Oto’s in-house label. A physical copy of the vinyl will be released later this year and will soon be available to pre-order.
- Past Event
Wednesday, 6 October 2021 6-9pm
Thursday, 7 October 2021 6-9pm
8–15 October 2021 11-5pm
Sound Installation, 2020
CHAPTER 1: SUBCONTINENTMENT
'Subcontinentment' is a manifesto that stems from my fieldwork in the polar circles, where I was confronted with my alienness as a brown body in a landscape commonly used for outer-space simulation experiments. As part of a series of fictional ice archives, south asian futurism, renamed subcontinentment, anti-chronicles the geopoetic links between the poles and the subcontinent. In transforming the text into a soundscape, we began finding correspondences and intersections between my polar recordings and the hyper, denuded aural environment of Delhi under lockdown. Cawing crows, a static in the ether of the polyphonous city, are intertwined with screeching skuas, lone reminders of life in the expansive nothingness of the ‘white’ continent. The whirr of a fan points to the circulation of air, capital, contagion, compassion. The extra-terrestrial echoes of stones skimming on frozen lakes sound like firecrackers, blackening the air with their celebratory overzealousness. گھنگرو, ghungroos, the metallic ankle bells of the temple-dancer-by-day, sex-worker-by-night, or ice in a frozen river. The pressure of stretching the word, ‘rest’ builds, it is released as if sounds of government-mandated clangings of pots and pans could avert a pandemic, substitute a virus for a communal agenda. The piece follows the rhizomatic root structures of melting, frozen lilypads. Lilypads that open at dawn and close at dusk just like the Na'at, poetry sung in praise of Allah, heard in the depths of a tomb.
CHAPTER 2: ANTARCTICA WAS A QUEER RAVE BEFORE IT GOT BUSTED BY COLONIAL WHITE FARTS
'Antarctica was a queer rave…' traces the history of conjecture and how the existence of Antarctica was hypothesized. It recounts, in a non-linear fashion, the Western imagination of the savage underworld, an imagination largely based on projection and fear. It turns this same imagination into a utopian desire: a place not populated by horrific freaks with malformed bodies and exquisite tentacles, but free from the normative conditioning of convention and straightness, free from the grids of the map as it dissolves into mists and fog. The music is analogue and recorded rogue, an acoustic rendering of EDM and 1990s rave beats. By recording single-track, on an acoustic drum set, David Soin Tappeser subverts, emulates, and pays homage to contemporary queer party culture.
CHAPTER 3: LADY ANTIGUA
'Lady Antigua' starts at the bow of the boat. Lying in the net, I couldn’t help noticing the bust of a black woman pinned to it. The poem is a fictional biography of her life, pointing to the imagination of black culture in the binaries of slavery and fetishism. And it began to reflect my own complicated displacement and confusion being a brown body in the polar tundra. We made this piece while the world was out on the streets chanting: Black Lives Matter. The pipe organ harks back to early hymns sung in the church, an institution of control and the force behind European colonial expansion, with the repetitive chord structure representing the repetition of history. The Hammond organ that follows was a portable, inexpensive instrument that led to the empowerment of small communities by placing faith and worship in individual hands. The free improvisation is this desire and celebration for freedom.
‘we are opposite like that’ is an ongoing series of interdisciplinary works that comprises fictional mythologies for the poles, told from the non-human perspective of an elder that has witnessed deep time: the ice. The film was co-commissioned by Forma and won the 2019 Frieze Artist Award. This presentation gathers a few of the numerous elements that have composed the multidisciplinary and polymorphic body of work to date.
Exhibition at FormaHQ
A week-long display opens alongside the concerts, including a new large-scale fabric work and sound installations at Peveril Gardens.
Videos, 2018/ 2019 In the dual-channel films, an alien figure, part-cyborg, part-vessel of some ancient feminine knowledge, wanders through the blank, oblivious whiteness, foraging for decolonial possibilities in a landscape of receding glaciers. Inspired by field recordings, an original score for string quartet creates an etheric soundscape coded with temperature variances, latitudes and longitudes from the field. ‘we are opposite like that’ beckons the ghosts hidden in landscapes and turns them into echoes, listening in on the resonances of potential futures.
Mountain, pixelated in the water, 2021 is a new tapestry of the sound of ice crystals smashing into each other, and the various histories of south asians, freaks, and exotic others at the poles.The silk-cotton tapestry is woven in an Ikat weave, one that is traditional but embodies the glitchy, digital nature of alien sightings at the poles. The color combination invokes the colonial histories of indigo, the peaceful resistance of Gandhian cotton and ahimsa (non-violent) silk and the clay color of terracotta and belonging.
Boatness, 2021 A state of being in which ontology and epistemology flow into each other: in which your experience of the world is inseparable from your knowledge of the world. It is a non-dualistic entanglement between the vessel and what contains it. In boatness, attention is called for, but with detachment. Boatness is the thin place in which theory can be practiced, intuition can be a method and love can be a robust form of critique. The part has a feminine energy that integrates it into the whole. The text score is as instructional or speculative, as performative or ritualistic, as participatory or discrete as you’d like. It is an open text inviting you to choose your own adventure, find your own boatness as a guide in those periods when you are adrift or when you are dispirited or have been silenced, boatness can be the wind that assures you of the movement even in stillness.
Editions, 2019 A series of five unique prints of interconnected fictional mythologies inspired by artist Himali Singh Soin's journeys to both polar circles: the Antarctic and the Arctic, in 2017. They fuse a variety of concerns: the ways we know what we do and the skewed hierarchy between reason and spirit, (post-)colonial attitudes and a looming climate crisis. It also imagines the polar landscapes as projecting screens for alternate, otherworldly or non-linear futures. This archival set of editions is extracted from the historical component of the moving image work, in which ice forms a ghostly presence overlaying early observations and records of geological phenomena.
Book, 2019 An almanac, a messy collection of missing paraphernalia from archives, false philosophies, unreliable observations from the ship, love letters, ekphrastic poems, astrological readings, made-up maps, theories, recipes and small resistances. It has a canvas cover and screen-printed title. The spine is an outline of a receding glacier, the glitchy + denoting the error on a ship’s GPS.
Himali Singh Soin, ‘we are opposite like that’ (2019). Video still. Image courtesy the artist.
Image courtesy Forma Arts & Media. Photography by Katarzyna Perlak.