the poetics of space: reflections

This project asks for a response artworks using the concept of the nest and the corner as expounded by Gaston Bachelard in his 1958 book The Poetics of Space. Other stimulus materials are the exhibitions People Like Us and Still In My Mind and a talk by Maja Petric. Below are my reflections.

The Nest

The Poetics of Space
"Thus, well-being takes us back to the primitiveness of the refuge. Physically, the creature endowed with a sense of refuge, huddles up to itself, takes to cover, hides away, lies snug, concealed."

People Like Us

Son pour Insomniaques
Su-Mei Tse
Installation, 5 color photographs, 2 plywood stools with MP3 players, headphones each photograph
104.1 x 104.1 cm

This piece from the exhibition speaks to me loudly of nest. For me, cats are the undisputed queens of seeking out pleasure and comfort and snuggles from their environment and all who are in it. I can't hold my cat and not feel connected to the simple bliss she must be experiencing from sitting in my lap, purring to herself.

Still In My Mind

Jarrarta Yawulyu (women's ceremony)
Connie Mosquito Ngarmeiye Nangala
synthetic polymer paint on canvas 

In this piece, the artist describes a map of home, there's people sitting and talking around fires, there's women over here, places for the men, specific trees to gather under, places for pregnant young women to give birth to their babies and windbreaks here and there for protection. For me, a nest is defined by warmth and what's inside vs what's outside. In a nest, everything and everyone has a place.

Personal reflection

The idea that strikes me most is the sense of instinct, and pure primal quality of the nest as home. Our need for it is not something that can be transcended as long as we have a physical form. It's where the animal part of us, our most basic needs find expression. Often so basic we hide them from the outside world and I find that privacy is a key aspect of nest for me. I don't want to be spied on or visible to others when I'm in my nest. I'm curious about how other interpret this as it gives me pause when I drive past a home at night and see the curtains are open and a family is sitting at the dining table or watching TV or otherwise going about their business fully visible to all who might pass. My instinct is to keep those mundane moments out of view, to close the curtains at night, to withdraw into my nest. How can one withdraw when you are on display? And how does each of us measure what parts of our nest are more protected than others? For me, the nest is wholly private, open to those I invite in only. But perhaps others define their nests in a smaller radius... bedrooms... bathrooms....

In contrast to the privacy of the nest, another ancient impulse that speaks to me is one of cave dwelling, being up high, perched like a nest looking out and down at the world. The secure and dense weight of all that stone pressing down, safe, solid, unmovable home. And warm... there's always family and tribe present and a fire burning, a hearth to gather around and tell stories and fall asleep in each other's arms.

In addition, there's a strong sense of nest for me in hugs and physical affection, in being held in another's arms. Indeed one of my most pervasive fantasies is to be held, cupped in two giant and warm hands in which I can snuggle into, close my eyes and fall asleep safe from the world. I see that feeling captured when people hold tiny young puppies and kittens in their hands.



The Poetics of Space
"...all corners are haunted, if not inhabited."

People Like Us

The Claiming of Things
Joan Ross
single-channel digital video animation, colour, sound.
7:36 minutes

This video artwork from the exhibition touches for me how corners are used to define traditionally non-existent boundaries and to lay claim on land and property by early settlers. Without corners, the settlers of this land could not protect the land they stole that lay within the boundary or separate what was outside the boundary. They proclaimed both their presence and their vulnerability with the corners they built.

Still In My Mind

Violet Wadrill Nanaku
Screenprint on BFK Rives paper

"The small black boxes in this screen print represent the rations supplied to Aboriginal workers on Wave Hill Station. People were given a calico flour bag, which they had to wash, and then on Friday go to the Store |to receive their weekly supply of rations. The rations were limited to a scoop each of tea, sugar, flour, rice, golden syrup, some matches and tobacco."

I can't imagine what it must have been like for the original people of this land to see and experience the settler's love of square things and corners... must have been bizarre, unnatural. Nothing in nature is square.

Personal reflection
I'm most intrigued by the hidden and forgotten corners. There's a sense of stagnant energy, dust accumulates, we ignore them and take them for granted. I remember being part of a Hindu house clearing ceremony many years ago where we chanted and drummed loudly for hours. We walked around the entire house 7 times before entering. Once inside, special attention and time was given to corners with incense, sound, lanterns and smoke clearing. They're places that accumulate energy. They're stuck areas that need to be cleansed and shifted to welcome in the new. As soon as we see spider webs in corners we think of neglect and misuse, ... even withdrawal - energy has been withdrawn from that corner. There's no movement, only obvious signs of time passing.


Reflections on Maja Petric + Transforming the Poetic Experience of Space through Light

What struck me most watching this talk was the idea of light as sculpture... I've seen plenty of movies and live shows, theatre and sciency stuff where light is manipulated but I've always looked at them through the lens of science or pretty entertainment rather than fine art. But to see light as a sculptural medium, one I can touch and interact with and by doing so, co-create the art myself was new. Also the idea I could be transformed by this interaction with light and opened to a new experience. I also identified a bias in me that resists computer-based technology because of the destructive influences it has on the earth, on society and millions of (mostly Chinese) workers who are gravely injured to produce the technology we take for granted. This bias has prevented me from looking at what computers make possible as even in the same realm as art. This presentation gently challenged that bias.