(a re-imagining and re-writing of the first stanza of Tender Buttons: Food by Gertrude Stein)
roastbeef: we don’t prepare or eat beef at home. sacrilegeous, what with your father’s Buddha looking at us from the living room, my mother chides, in spite of her conversion to Christianity years ago. She has a McDonald’s cheeseburger from time to time. It’s outside of the house, she argues; herbal mutton soup with cinnamon and 20g 玉竹 (yù zhú) a.k.a Solomon’s Seal; πρωινó; ζáχαρη with prata; ocean spray; γáλα; αυγá; μηλó; tails (pigs’); μεσημεριανó; emptying cups! is what Cheers! mean in Mandarin; rhubarb: you’ve probably eaten a piece of rhubarb pie or slice of rhubarb cake—but… can you even answer the question, “what is rhubarb?” if you’re ashamed of your rhubarb knowledge (or lack thereof), don’t worry. you’ve got questions. we’ve got answers; single; fishcake; custard; eat potatoes, literally “jiak kentang”: like the pejorative banana, Singaporean outside, westernised inside έλα τώρα; asparagus: the Αustralian variety is better- if you can afford it. βούτυρο τúπου κέρκυρασ; endless summer; λουκάνικο χωριάτικο; celery; hotplate veal by Chef Chui (like gongbao ji but veal); vegetable; cooking; chicken; pastry: my great-grandmother had no oven or clock. she fashioned an oven using sand and charcoal and timed her cakes by lighting joss-sticks; cream; cucumber; βραδινό; τρωει; σαλáτα; sos; salmon; orange + cocoa = Terry’s chocolate orange; and clear soup and oranges and oatmeal; porridge (Mainly British) porridge: broth and rice (Mainly Asian); salad dressing and an artichoke is the name of a restaurant in Middle Road, Singapore. I have eaten there, but not a real artichoke; a κέντρο in a τραπέζι.
There was a period of time, somewhere in the middle, when I only felt like a person when she came to me.
My edges became sharp and defined, my voice used, my fingers traced her skin, face, body. I came out of the quiet, cloudy depths and could remember what it was like to be a person again.
She would come to me for the afternoon, or the evening, or the weekend. Unable to go anywhere, unable to see people. We cooked, made focaccia and ordered takeaway with an indulgence my budget had never been able to stretch to before.
Then she would go, and I would plump the cushions, tackle the washing up and gradually sink back, like an estuary when the tide comes in, slowly being submerged, waiting for the moment when I would become uncovered again and all my detail and intricacy would be remembered.
But eventually, of course, this caused an argument.
In August of 1944 the SS Richard Montgomery, an American ‘Liberty’ ship carrying thousands of tonnes of explosives was anchored in the mouth of the Thames Estuary, just off Sheerness.
Amid stormy weather her anchor dragged and she grounded on a sandbank just over a mile away from Sheerness. Over the next month as her explosive cargo began to be unloaded, her hull split, her cargo holds flooded and eventually the ship broke in two, sank, and came to rest on the sea bed, a short 15m below the surface of the water, with some 1,400 tonnes of explosives still on board.
For the past 75 years, she has lain in the mouth of the Thames, slowly deteriorating in the shifting tides - too risky to try further unloading. Her three masts peek out of the water, with signs that read ‘Danger’ attached.
Numerous investigations have shown that the unexploded cargo is still volatile - deadly. That it could be detonated if there should be a ‘collision, an attack, or even the shifting of the cargo in the tide’. It could even detonate spontaneously. The force of the explosion would be enough to break every window in nearby Sheerness, possibly Southend-on-Sea, and send a tsunami racing up the Thames to London.
Local fisherman say they regularly catch unexploded bombs in their nets.
When I was a child my grandparents owned a small sailing boat, moored somewhere on the south coast. One summer we went out for a day’s sailing. We ran aground on a sandbank and, unable to free ourselves as the tide went out, the boat gently came to rest at a 45 degree angle on a small spit of land that slowly came into view beneath us.
My grandpa and I climbed out of the boat onto the sandbank, the sun was just down and in the dusky twilight I remember running around on the sand that hadn’t been there - hadn't been visible - before. My grandma put the kettle on in the galley kitchen, on the small hob which tilted, allowing it to remain upright, despite whatever the rest of the boat might be doing.
Eventually it got dark and the tide turned, came back in. The sandbank disappeared and we slowly righted and floated free.
The area surrounding the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery is an exclusion zone, clearly marked on maps and ringed by a series of buoys, defining her edges.
But this hasn’t necessarily deterred people from going, most recently in 2015 a man paddle-boarded out to the wreck and posed next to the slanting masts with their danger signs. He had to paddle for two miles and across a busy shipping lane to get there. There have also been near run-ins with passing ships - the wreck is only a couple of hundred meters from the shipping lane after all.
In Sheerness itself there is a viewing telescope on the waterfront that you can put a few pennies in, to take a better look.
In June of 2020 the government announced that they were seeking a contractor to dismantle the three masts as there are concerns over the strain they place on the remaining structure: swaying in the tides, causing the ship to break apart further and scattering the ammunition across the sea bed. Or worst in the worst case scenario, rusting through and collapsing onto the deck of the ship itself, triggering an explosion.
Perhaps, also, by taking away the masts they hope we will begin to forget. That it will slip from our collective consciousness, becoming buried and silted up, with no visible landmark to point to. Fading, out of sight, out of mind.
In writing this piece of text I had imagined ending by talking about how I remembered to be myself again, without depending on someone else to do it for me. How I remembered what it was like to have agency, and not rely on my partner for my sense of self definition. Not using her as a way of seeing the edges of me.
That is what I wanted to say, but when I sat down to write it I found myself floundering, splashing around with clumsy metaphors about feeling like a motion-sensor light, and how the act of observation changes the behaviour of particles.
Until I realised the reason I was struggling to write about it is because I’m not there yet, I’m still somewhere in between, slowly surfacing.
I’d been going out walking, watching the seasons change, the leaves come and start to go, the coats coming off and slowly being put back on. But it was like moving through the world in a dream, not touching it. I saw friends at a distance, made plans, had long phone conversations with my family, practised yoga with a vague but fervent hope that in being with my body I would find some footing with myself. But never quite getting there.
But I guess it’s always a constant shifting really - being a person - with some tides higher or lower than others, showing or concealing
After biting my fingernails down to the quick all my life
Let no one think
catching sight of them will be easy.
But if you watch your hands,
after some time you’ll find
the natives speaking
beneath the dark canopy of your heart.
Like long forgotten friends
they are waving you over.
Go! You must follow their stories,
gesticulating, informing you,
if you let them,
of every desperate grasp, frozen tug.
Watch them, if you dare give up your blindness,
sift through their announcements,
their distress calls.
Pay attention to them and you will see:
the fingertips of a playful child
hiding in the dark--
Hold those hands and run laughing into the woods.
This Is Just To Say
- William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious so sweet
and so cold
'Stillness' is a diary: it is made up of different moments across a long period of time. It encompasses both the normalcy and the bizarre sensation of days spent in quarantine, recording thoughts, lyrics, found objects, frustrations and desires.
The title is meant to be quite sarcastic; time is never still, although this object shall remain still in its paradoxical movement. The days were passing as the painting was made, and it still does as the objects, colours and thoughts also change. It's a piece that evokes a strong presence, one that is not taken from one, special moment, but from several mundane moments - moments one does not, in their daily life, take the time to think about. Objects that lay forgotten, seen as rubbish and perishable, now find themselves encapsulated in this piece, alongside all these other ephemeral moments. They are all present in this surface,
Graphite and oil pencil drawing with red silk string. Size: 590 x 750 mm.
‘The making of a feminist’ is inspired by Invisible Women, Caroline Perez (2019) exposing data bias in a world designed for men. It was created during COVID-19 quarantine limitations during which I used for the first-time myself as life-model creating 100 drawings. These selfie drawings form the basis of a 3 minute audio- visual clip in collaboration with Improviser Maria Sappho and and Prof. Dubravka Pokrajac based at the University of Aberdeen.
"This place draws a lot of people in blooming May every year. For a short amount of time you could experience the space at its fullest.
I wanted to see a black garden almost dying but fighting to its fullest to survive. When we take away the obvious and shift to another space we are not left in just darkness. When we dare to dig into it we find unexpected beauty and great resources of strength, growth and communication. We allow for something else to become real.
Just like its blooming nothing is temporary. Take the time to take it all in while things are in one state. It will shift. We will shift too."
What is the Measure of Nothingness
INES MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
KATE STEENHAUER & MARIA SAPPHO
12 HOUR FOREST
My body, my mind, my gaze,
Distant memory of the deep blue Sea, dhows sailing past the window to the
sweat moon lit dream of a brave new land,
forts became filled
to the brim with stories of sorrow and heroic deeds, ruins,
my own ruin.
Mountains and border lands, bordered nature, a family of Oryx and gazelles,
no more will.
Domestic spaces with low tables, high windows, and dusty portraits of my
my body, my mind, my gaze.
Bodies of freedom, my freedom, compressed, shell like in its translucence.
Carefully, cautiously, I am prudent under this watchful eyes of the hawk.
I diligently position limbs and fingers around a vase,
crimson desert blooms, my own bleeding memento mori.
As I whisper of lost heritage, my third skin and a box of forgotten dialects.
My veins flow with Britain, Oman, Africa and Zanzibar.
Patterned cloth wraps our golden branches, and sweet jasmine and coconut oils
are soothingly applied to thick coarse hair,
not my mothers golden locks.
Henna stains our hands and feet, as we fragrantly walk past in our silk and satin,
listening to the hum and strum of one hundred busy tailors,
sewing in the labyrinth souk till long past the chime of twelve.
My dunes, my soft sandy dunes, fill me up with the heat of the day,
As you pour bitter coffee and sweet dates,
Simple childhood memories of bubbling fountains and the many calls to prayer
are painted in black and white.
Tall palm trees mimic your shadow, and the full moon teases me with its full
voluptuous heart, your heart.
Sadness descends at sunset, as there is too much ocean between you and I.
My whispered words are mumbled beneath this mask, my veil and your closed
that lets no room for elevator hugs.
Cigarettes are stubbed out in one swift turn,
your water filled ashtrays mock my tears,
and tall white candles that I leave by the gated door,
are snuffed out by a pack of desert dogs, that sit below the twinkling stars
guarding your wide walls and tall gates.
My flock of emerald green birds cannot find their home any more
yet they continue to fly, singing of our shared hidden histories,
lost narratives caused by this family breakdown,
forbidden tones of my mother tongue, father tongue,
too many words and sentences forgotten in the heat of the moment,
Your cold air conditioning makes me sail far away.
MUCK (Must Use Critical Knowledge) Open Call 3
Edited by India Boxall and Niamh Moloney
Click here to listen to our co-editor's note
EMPTYING CUPS /
I say that everyone is whole and complete at the cellular level there’s a subtle part of
us that lies waiting to be nudged toward existence if only we would let it strive into
being passive it awaits our intervention on our own bodies a settling of the soul on
disastrous blankness always I return to death and the will to disintegrate to return to
my natural state and the attendant misery fashioned into cultural artefacts I feel that
tepid sheepishness in the memory of a terrifying encounter with chaos I shrink back
from descriptions of shame I am a cloud of sensation a swelling of desire an always
trembling of that which struggles to live somersaults over that chilling deflation a
cessation of gladness in hearts of low ensoulment and hovering between times and
lacking of spatial arrangement
What is the significance of the blur? Something that is indistinct, refuses to come
fully into focus. Images gradually sink in, move like liquids in front of the eyes.
Something that refuses to be pinned down, refuses to crystallise out of the mess of
vision. We perceive no boundary between what is seen and what is unseen, there
are no hard edges at the limits of the field of vision. Is it in the visual and not in the
aural that the blur takes place? The blur softens the image, makes the image more
like a sound. Sound is about sharing and participation, but the blur can bring images
into a relation with sound. Something that is liquid, the blur is hazy, a mirage can
emerge in the blur when one image blends into another. The blur interacts with the
body, with the somatic cloud, a blending of the body with its environment. The blur is
the outer reaches, the extremities of the body. The blur is constantly shifting, finding
new ways to bleed, to be in motion, to sink and rise at the same time.
There was an armoury painted in yellow gamboge and it housed every steel
implement designed to cut efficiently through the flesh. But that was hundreds of
years ago – their bodies have forgotten now how they bifurcated and how their
hands, arms and heads sank gently to the floor. There is a singer, his voice is silk
and his hips are light. There is a yellow pigment that leads us to the Passion Room
where a friend of mine harvests poppies. She told me that heroin had torn her up,
that she moved so quickly that sparks flew from beneath her heels. I’m an easy
dilettante, I made a drawing of a naked woman with green arrows sticking out of her
buttocks, a buxom St Sebastian she gives us all of her flesh. In the seven
sacraments there is a red like no other that shines from within a crown of robes and
I’m photographing myself lying on the marble floor. There is luxury for the soul there.
I was writing about the ethics of the images in her essays. In Turin I spotted a pink
helium balloon gracefully bobbing in the shade of a stone portico. Later I was on a
yacht, there was a roulette wheel and singing girls with iridescent eyes and purple
pom poms. And in that room where they were whipping him, there was a piece of
wood between his teeth which he bit down on for the pain. It’s impossible to perceive
it but they say that the stars here will never come to an end.
I am a cloud of sensation
a photogram exposed by the night sky
I think this metaphorical life of earthy, creaturely masks, larvae dei, offers the possibility for thinking divinity and creation in the key of posthumanist performativity. Incarnation occurs in the midst of complex material agencies, luring them on in mutual process of transformation. I might say here that instead of enacting any straight forward account of incarnation – a one-to-one correlation of a determinate divinity intimately becoming determinate flesh – I’m advocating something more like a nature-cultural ‘intra-carnation’, where the divine and creatures enflesh together, are wrapped together, open possibilities of becoming differently, are fundamentally indeterminate, and appreciate responsibility to the multiplicity of divine-creaturely masks. Drag shows, carnivals, burlesque only occur in the creative flow and intra-active participation of performer and spectator. And those masks quite often become blurred or change roles.
Jacob J Erickson in Meaningful Flesh, Reflections on Religion and Nature for a Queer Planet, Whitney
A. Bauman, editor
THE MAKING OF A FEMINIST
Excerpt from Grass Soil Hope by Courtney White
ALL THAT IS AIR
MY BODY, MY MIND, MY GAZE
LATIFAH A STRANACK
LUCY MARIA GRUBB
IT'S STILL SEPTEMBER 2020
CAROLINE ARESKOG JONES
In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.’ - Frantz Fanon
Shared natural resources are vital to all life, even those unseen. A political thought coexisting within a landscape taken for granted.
(zoom out to 75% for optimum sprawling viewing)