Artists: Amrita Hepi, Miko Revereza, Talia Smith and Leyla Stevens
Curator: Josephine Mead
The existence and placement of the punctuation in the title the place one lives., is subtly suggestive of the screening’s handling of its central theme of home. By its nature, the full stop indicates a cessation or state of completion. However, the comma that immediately follows alludes to a progression after a pause; there is something else to come and a fixed ending is nowhere in sight.
Curated by Josephine Mead, *the place one lives., contemplates the idea of home via an online screening of film and video works by four local and international artists. Encountering the works from my laptop in my home had a terrific and somewhat comforting aptness to it, and I could only wonder how this may have differed if I were able to view the screening publicly, as had been originally intended. As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, home for me has assumed multiple, shifting forms. At times, its physical proximity to those I love has been at the forefront of my mind, at others it has been a place to enact domesticity through new found rituals and routines. Echoing the sentiments of Anabelle Lacroix’s poem and text accompanying the screening, sometimes home has felt more like a place embedded within myself, where I permit myself to simply exist. I must acknowledge that the place I currently reside and call home is on sovereign Aboriginal land, specifically that of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. I remain an uninvited guest upon stolen land, that always has been and always will be home to First Nations people.
The screening begins with DROGA! (2014) by Miko Revereza. Born in Manila and raised in California, Revereza currently resides between the Philippines and Mexico City. The film touches on a diasporic experience, as portrayed through grainy, black and white footage that includes aeroplanes, immigration documents and American street signage. Fluctuating pacing and a soundtrack that lulls and crescendos contribute to a feeling of uncertainty or fragmentation within the work. It is an immediate reminder that places can have complex, precarious relationships with those who inhabit them. These connections can be frequently influenced by histories and present-day realities of colonisation and migration.
Aeroplanes also feature in Look Up (2020) by Talia Smith, a short video work documenting flights traversing the airspace above Stanmore, Sydney. Watching each plane disrupt the (apparent) serenity of the suburban skies, I was struck by one that travelled directly away from the camera. As the space between the camera and the plane increased, I wondered if the idea of home only exists because it is antithetical to being away. What is it about returning home and its inherent paradoxical intangibility? Returning home can feel constant and familiar, while home itself has the capacity to undergo multiple changes and iterations. Leyla Stevens ponders a similar line of thought in Scenes of Solace (2020), comprising impeccably composed footage from the artist’s travels and family archive. Shimmering bodies of water, bodily movement and gesture feature heavily. The scenes are unhurried and restful. Home is something to be dwelled upon, submerged in.
Collectively, the works in the place one lives., resist depicting home as a concrete, fixed idea or entity. While home’s physical location remains significant in many of the works and cannot be overlooked, the flow-on effects of living in these physical spaces ultimately contribute to creating and at times unsettling a sense of home. The people who inhabit these places, the journeys made to reach and return to them, their accompanying memories and potential futures, seem to take precedence here in portraying home as an ever-evolving and multifaceted concept.
the place one lives., ends with Precedent Piece (2020) by Amrita Hepi, a brief yet jam-packed video work instrumental in definitively situating the overall screening in the present moment and beyond. The work references the dread many of us are undoubtedly experiencing throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, playfully considering the implications of frequent phone usage as a method of communication while staying at home. Hepi’s proposal to viewers to surrender to this dread seems to invite the possibility of finding a catharsis among the absurdity of current times. What might arise when we accept what we cannot control? Who might we become?
Clare McLeod is a writer based in Melbourne.