Published in Institute of Modern Art: Make Shift: Chapter 4 e-bulletin
WRITER, EDITOR AND CREATIVE PRODUCER MARIAM ARCILLA SHARES HER PANACEA FOR EASING INTO THE NEW NORMAL
Rooms are shells are skins
Rooms are skins are surroundings
Peeling off the skins are detachments from the past,
from conventions and other compulsions.
— The Site of Memory by Heidi Bucher
“I’ve been vacuuming my home more than usual—a predictable task considering the world spent a chunk of quarantine season cooped up indoors. Something that occurred to me about this pandemic is the volume of dust we eliminate as we hyper-sanitise our surroundings with surface wipes, laundry cycles, or a vacuum’s sharp suck. By effacing dust, are we also subtracting all evidence of a life lived?
Heidi Bucher’s words from 1981—the year I was born—makes me think of all the dust and skin I’ve shed during my time on Earth. It’s a poignant reminder that dust is energy solidified. Because dust is a manifestation of you and me and the dirt under our shoes and the filtered face mask and the soot in the stove and the fluff that coats old books. It allows us to contemplate former civilisations and lifelong exchanges between us, non-human organisms and objects. As galleries, salons and stores open back up, and any accumulated dust is removed, it’s salient to treat dust as both a marker of history and a way forward. Everything turns into dust eventually. With that in mind, perhaps we can adapt to a new normal knowing that dust is the ultimate connector of experiences and movement.
Below is a list that will hopefully guide us into a post-corona future as we collect new memories that may never be dusted away. Included is Yo-Yo Ma’s sonnet for the Indigenous Shipibo artists of the Amazon, who have fled to COVID-rife Cantagallo after being removed from their land by illegal mining and logging developments. Google Drive fans will find delight in Publik Library’s ever-growing interactive library card or the click-heavy resources shared by self-isolated New York Times staff. Closing out is Shirin Neshat’s sonically-wrenching video from 1998, a commentary on Iran’s gender role disparities.”
Publik Library: The Stacks (click image or comments to activate)
Image: Mariam Arcilla in her home, 2020, photo: Eloise Fuss.