Marc Nair and Nicola Anthony were invited to write an art and poetry essay exploring their latest duo exhibition in Myanmar, see it here or in print:
Trebuchet (Issue 2)
Intersection: The Juncture of Three Places
Words and images by Nicola Anthony and Marc Nair
Published in print September 2017, downloadable copy here
Buy the magazine in book shops or buy as pdf online here. Full text below:
Intersection: The juncture of three places
“We operate at the intransigence of borders. The city limits even as it shelters. Boundaries are not just roads; they are memories on the slow turned spit of history.”
At the genesis of this travelling research project over three years ago, we had no idea it would evolve into such a vast, meaningful body of artwork and poetry. Over time, by exploring these diverse yet connected places we (artist Nicola Anthony and poet Marc Nair) also discovered and delved into our own histories, and something of the essence of human nature.
Our journeys took us to London, Nicola’s home city which holds such a vast history that the present inhabitants can’t help but feel disconnected from the Londinium of old, even though fragments of it loom up through the tarmac. Next stop was Kampong Glam in Singapore, a locale which has undertaken a rapid transformation from sleepy status as a fishing village on a swampy island, through colonialism to independence. Finally, in complete awe and confusion we immersed ourselves in Yangon, Myanmar - a place which is emerging from it’s journey from British Empire rule, via suffocating Nationalisation, land confiscation and war, into stagnation and finally into a dizzying era of change as it joins the modern globalised world.
The resulting body of work, entitled Intersection, has this year been exhibited at Intersections Gallery, Singapore, and will be moving on to its next sojourn at Myanm/ART Gallery in Yangon in March-April 2018 before catching a tailwind to London. Made up of sculptures, kinetic poetry, ink paintings and a limited edition risograph printed book, the body of work operates more like an archive of objects, notes, observations, and fragments. Many of the sculptures were created during Nicola’s time as 2016-2017 artist-in-residence at NPE Art Residency, Singapore.
Visitors to the exhibition have asked if the work is still about the locations we set out to explore during our research trips, or if it has become a more universal, hypothetical place. They observe that the exhibition has transcended to become an imagined space at the intersecting centre of all three. Fittingly, when we began the project, we originally wanted to bring in a fourth node: a universal connecting point.
During our creative process, we did not set out to achieve this by deliberately distilling the human condition into 'art.' Nevertheless, it has happened, but in a far more natural, gentle and irrepressible way. Without pretension or specifically planning it, we have somehow found our intersection.
In the words of both artists, and the poetry of Marc, we came to understand that
A city is a space
of our own imagining;
porous, a thousand points
of congruence flood through
We operate at the intransigence of borders. The city limits even as it shelters.
Boundaries are not just roads; they are memories on the slow turned spit of history.
An overnight zoning law, spoken in the
tongue of change, uproots an old village
into a sky-splitting row of condominiums
A building erected from the winds of trade
is now a harem of notaries and squatters
threading electricity through sooty walls
A gate is all that remains of a cemetery,
yet the missing still loop their wrought fingers,
calling to older souls beneath the sidewalks
Change is endemic, almost inevitable. Plotted through artifacts of imagination and memory, the traces of small things gather momentum and power until collectively, from a dust cloud of stars and full stops, comes a wave of change.
And so we find ourselves at an intersection, having gathered from neighbourhoods in London, Singapore and Yangon.
In cities such as London, the exterior of old buildings within the City Walls conceal indecipherable codes of faceless corporations. Arcane symbols are forgotten as suited masses pour along the streets. But here and there human elements break the façade and reveal facets of the past, like fragments of the wall waiting to be found.
In Kampung Gelam in Singapore and Kyauktada in Yangon, history’s seam is not so neatly sewn. Inside these gaps, older men sit by coffee shops as they have done for years, looking at scenes of wireless life but remembering another era, while holy places continue with their patient call to prayer; the work of devotion carries on, unbroken.
Much of the world is coded, unknowable. The more we look, the more we see.
We interpret it through our own experience, but it is ultimately a fractal, connecting infinite complexities together. Loci on this journey are physically embedded: enduring, shifting or lost, until emerging in the future or in memory. The eye is drawn to smaller details; imperceptible shifts, human points of connection.
Frisson: an attraction invisible to the outsider.
The intersection of time,
We begin to explore the chinks, leaks and erosions. Sometimes forcibly cut into or severed; sometimes organically splintering under pressure; at other times worn through by wear, love, use or misuse.
These intersections exist simultaneously, regardless of their occurrence in time. Collisions of meaning contain overlapping consistencies; whether it is the vestiges of colonial influence, the relentless march of capitalism, or the stubborn refusal of history to disappear.
If you look hard enough you can still experience the ghosts and vibrations from the past manifesting in the now. And as artists, all we can do is close our eyes and open ourselves to stimulus and stories.
The elements that stir us to art make for flickering moments; a brief flash of recognition, a hint of scent memory. A distant sound rings clearly in our ears above the rumble. A nexus of connection, recognition and discovery.
Above all, an intersection.
Words by Marc Nair & Nicola Anthony.
Visual artworks by Nicola Anthony
Catch the exhibition’s next stop at Myanm/art Gallery, Yangon, 2018