On Nubia and The House

the entrance

 

The house is the womb is the woman is the body is the country is the coffin is the cradle is the bed.

 The house where the performance takes place is dramaturgically structured like a game of Parcheesi, where the sections of the performance are physically separated, but become connected by the movement of bodies in space and the memory of my body living in the house. My grandmother’s house, her body, her coffin, her inheritance, my country, and my language, are all contained within the performance. Each room within the house is an aspect of this experience.

I travelled to Istanbul in March 2015 and visited Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. The museum is the physical accompaniment to Pamuk’s 2008 book of the same name. It is a house in a residential neighbourhood; camouflaged amidst apartments, corner stores, and antique shops. Inside, an array of vitrines, each contains objects related to a specific chapter of the book. Above each vitrine there is a number corresponding to that chapter, and sometimes a quote, a memory, or a word. As I inhabited the house, I saw my body living inside the novel, floating among the memories and images that Pamuk had described and created for the museum.

Similar to Pamuk, Lygia Clark’s work has explored the inhabiting of a space with embodied memory. For her 1968 A casa é o corpo. Penetração, ovulaçäo, germinaçäo, expulsão [2]installation, Clark built a playful, sensual environment that reimagined the female body as living experience. By allowing audiences into her house/body construction, Lygia presents her female shape as a place of creation, growth, and life.

I encountered both Clark’s and Pamuk’s work months after I had decided to work inside a house. Something in me knew that the ownership and nesting of a space would allow me to deeply experience the invasion, visitation, and penetration of audiences into my space. I saw these instincts manifested in contrasting languages in their work, and thus was able to better articulate my project. My house is not a museum like Pamuk’s, but it houses objects of memory. It is interactive like Clark’s body/house, but it is also designed to house me, to nurture and protect my memories. It lays somewhere in between a body and a museum; it is a dream of Nubia’s house[3].

 

[2] Butler, Cornelia and Luis Pérez-Oramas. Lygia Clark and the Abandonment of Art. New York: MOMA Publications, 2014: 274

[3] From Orhan Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects

A MODEST MANIFESTO FOR MUSEUMS

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11 The future of museums is inside our own homes