From the Farce of the Saint-Courtesan, an extract, in essence; a list of ingredients, in words; to find their replicates in my personal dictionary or strange forms:

Eight categories of nature; sixteen accidental properties; the soul, five vital airs; the three-fold qualities; mind, evolution and re-absorption….

For all this to exist in unity, there is the daily ritual of transit from the bath through the bedroom into the studio every morning, an anatomy inscribed in movement, and the creation of a deviant history. It has been suggested to me that I delineate my mode of practice as opposed to its text, and it seems logical to begin with an examination of its locus. In this, I am assisted by an objective view from a friend: [1]

The studio lies at the very heart of the home, between the kitchen and the shared family bedroom. Its metaphorical and actual placement becomes a clear symbol for the location of practice: at the centre of life; centered to real life…a space and time claimed, torn out of the very body of the every day. As I watch the children, running back and forth through its various doorways leading into the kitchen; the bedroom, leading out of the house, it appears to me much more like a passageway, a place of transition, repeatedly penetrated throughout the day, life a railway station where nothing and no one comes to stay.

From placement to disarticulation; the inevitable change that time and journeys bring, the curious returns to places visited before, images used before, recognisable still but transformed. It is difficult to contain the flow within a frame or to crop and cut it to a uniform size. Odds and ends sometimes come together with such a sense of preciousness and love, as a string of seemingly illogical associations and departures from such associations, some of them reclaimed from diverse points in time, enmeshing themselves into a seething continuum which feeds off the past as well as the future. There is the simultaneous appearance of contentious grammatical structures within a jumbled syntax, breaking loose from containment or predictable coherence; every dissonance a different kind of punctuation mark, the sentence only lacking a full stop.

It could coalesce, briefly, through the act of display rather than out of a sense of being complete, as paintings.

The making of presence more real than the surfaces of things requires an accession of mutual autonomy; the creator and the created, roles which are at all times freely interchangeable, exist as equals, each instrumental in the invention and transformation of the other. If song could be conceived of as the penetration of the tongue into the orifice of the ear, painting is the imprint of body upon body in encounters of varying intensity and duration. Weaknesses occur where contact has been painful or problematic, and deformities where free access is denied; a transliteration of the space, with its obstructions and free passages, which the dancer-painter negotiates.

Some milestones glow brighter than others.

The Immaculate Conception: the first painting belonging to this group was constructed around a blood-stained robe; a shedding of the shame and taboo associated with body fluids and menstrual blood. Subsequent pre-occupations return to the cloth, with its connotations of intimacy with the body in life and death, pain and pleasure.

While I was in Paris last year, there was a further extension into more obvious symbols, receptacles reminiscent of womb-forms, in conjunction with objects/ instruments of penetration, desired or otherwise.

In Carlisle, on an artists’ residency, I was in a studio which stood next to a weaver’s. Everyday, on my errands to the water source I would pass by a sparkling enamel vessel containing a ruby-red liquid of seductive translucence: the sheer sensuality of the image moved me into making a study of it. This evolved into a series of four paintings in gold and white and red, with inscriptions by the side. With the blue-edged enamel, there are the added overtones of hospitalizations, surgery, birth, after-birth. The script derives from my daughter’s attempts at grasping the workings of written language, a jumble of symbols which transcend all meaning, an attempt at formulating an intention as yet unknown. The sub-text as it were, composed of not-alphabets, personifying the grey areas between specifics; curiously more comprehensible than clarity.

To borrow Simryn’s words again.

I recognize that gesture of carving something precious out of the body of real life. It brings with it a wonderful energy, an autonomy which comes from being so intimately connected into the fabric of the domestic, of life and living and yet so powerfully and willfully aloof from it as the same time. I thrive on this strangely borderline place, at the edge of the legitimate, the almost full. And underlying all this is a constantly shifting negotiation. A negotiation with definitions, with boundaries and with time as it imposes the linear and the rational. From our site at the edge of recognisable categories, we understand and embody the sideways glance, the rhetoric of subversion; a location at the edge of all things, and the centre of nothing.

Thozhur/ Gill

[1]Simryn Gill: Time and Place, on Vasudha Thozhur

Sign In Close
Only Critical Collective subscribers can access this page.
If you are already a subscriber, then please log in.
 Forgot Password?
Subscribe now

The Photography Timeline is currently under construction.

Our apologies for the inconvenience.