Bubble version 3…. extending ourselves past the literal

Today I began my session in the foyer with Bubble version 2 again. The inflatable lilo taped and wrapped around me. The words from the previous session smudged and blurry within in for me to re-read. 

This week I have begun to consider how I extend my ‘bubble’, my echo-chamber, when i don’t place myself within the literal inflatable bubble. What mechanisms are in place for us to exist within our bubbles? How do we feel safe? Protected? Have a voice? 

Social media… constant access to our phones, laptops, tablets, the internet and the algorithms that ensure we hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see.

But physically. Day to day. How do we extend this part of ourselves? 

Today I decided to consider clothing. What we wear. How we show ourselves. How we change ourselves perhaps (certainly what I do). What ‘role’ do we have today? For me…… am I ‘showing’ a version of myself? Am I Artist? Interpreter? Mum? The Artist Mum? Do i feel I am expressing myself today? What does that mean? Why is it important?

I brought with me a bag of clothes previously donated to another work of mine ‘Clothing Exchange’. I layed with the clothes, lugged the heavy bag across the space and emptied it onto the floor. I dug through it and chose some clothing. Dressed myself. Skirt, belt, fluffy waistcoat and hooded jacket…. Wig, glassed, high heels….. I strutted around, felt the clothing and myself. Felt uncomfortable….. And quickly removed some of the items to exchange them for something more comfortable. More me? 

I hid within the clothes, lay on them, under them, they became my bubble version 3. They protect, they comfort, they express. They dissent some days, dissenting the norms of the environment perhaps or they dissent by not fitting us after having children or an indulgent holiday. Clothing can restrict or liberate us. 

Over the next few sessions I will bring my clothing exchange to the spaces at the uni. I will ask audiences to exchange a piece of their clothing with my own. I will try to use this to explore how others use clothing. What pieces do they feel comfortable sharing with me? What do they want to take away? 

Does this exchange represent something more? 

This exchange can be a dissent against capitalism perhaps, but it also for me is a dissent against feeling a need to express, but acknowledging that we all do it, don’t we? Or we choose items that we feel don’t express anything at all, neutral, I AM NEUTRAL…. Or I am not anything special…… don’t talk to me. Or Here ARE MY VIEWS… you see them, on my clothing, therefore don’t talk to me! You don’t need to ask me these views!

Or is it a challenge? See this? I am different. Ask me why!

Today I left the clothes in tidy piles, along the edge of the foyer space marked with white tape. A clear boundary of the clothing, a space for it to sit a while until its next iteration. Also a nod to the ‘art making’ of things, how we place something, where and how we ‘put’ it, and how that affects what we see. The clothes sit below Andrews maps, his maps are burnt at the edges, boundaries burnt, annihilated, edges blurred, dissent against order and parameters. My clothes sit below, extensions of bodily parameters, our edges, blurring our bodies or shaping them, mapping who we are and what we like/do/listen to…..

Fellow dissenters in the laboratory. I invite you to disrupt the clothing if you wish, I only ask that it not be destroyed, so that it can still become an exchange on later days.

The Bubble: Version 2

Bubble 2, Susan Merrick, Laboratory of Dissent 2.0, 2019

Today (Thursday 7th Nov) I had my first exploratory session at the Uni.

I used the bus (see below), created mono-prints, stuck my bubble comments from Saturday up on a wall to consider them. I engaged with several people, had a tour of the Art School and got to have some short conversations with some of the other Artists.

It was an interesting set-up. I arrived and had planned to use the bus. This is an amazing creature. An ex-library bus that has been taken on by Test Valley and CAS and is used for multiple purposes! It’s name? The Bus of Many Things!! (This makes me happy and I sent the details to my Artist friend Louise Ashcroft, as she will love it!)

I also visited the other Artists in the Rotunda, a different space surrounded by water in which most of the other Artists were quietly thinking or creating. And the foyer, which is a corridor outside a lecture hall. These are all spaces that we will be exploring with our work and where we will be engaging with the staff and students of the Uni.

I used the bus as a mini-workshop space, setting up mono printing and creating my own very mini gallery space for the day. (Photos to follow). I had arrived this morning thinking about dissent and bodies. How do our bodies dissent? When they are ill? injured? suffering from allergies or infections? I have a rash on my face today from some make-up that my skin has reacted to. Is my skin dissenting? And is that dissent useful?

We also dissent against bodies. We shave, wax, pluck them, cover them, plump them, fill them, smooth them, hide them, enhance them. We dissent against the natural. (Or at least this is what the mainstream in western society shows).

We also USE our bodies in acts of dissent. Maybe through action or protest (physically marching, campaigning, protesting or rioting), through higher impact acts of rebellion, like hunger strikes or even suicide bombs, or through small acts of rebellion (growing our bodily hair when that is not the norm, or refusing to adhere to uniforms or costumes, not conforming to what is expected. Perhaps by stepping over the yellow line before the train comes, or crossing before the green man tells us to.

I arrived thinking about all of this.

I also created the Bubble version 2. Bubble 2 is a deflated lilo. I reinflated it slightly and taped it together to create a tunnel that I could place over my upper body. I took it up to the foyer area and sat under and within in. I used a chalk pen to write down my thoughts while i was under the bubble. I remembered the text sent by Laurence, talking of membranes, of umbilical fluid and of fluid as protection. It is. It is protection. Like my bubble. Womb like, muted sounds and sights, warm and moist (as I got sweaty). The writing on my bubble began to rub off onto my body as it merged with my skin. If we are all fluid anyway, then not only does the fluid protect us when it surrounds us, but it IS US also. If it is US, and you, and me and all of us, then we are connected and this too protects us.

Fluidity. Dissent. All one. Bodies. Water.

The Bubble Version 1

Bubble 1, Susan Merrick, Inside/Outside Symposium Nov 2019

At the symposium on Saturday I let myself begin.

I mean this in the most basic sense. I have been busy with so much else that I haven’t been able to allow myself time to fully ‘begin’ to think about this project yet. That starts now.

I had wanted to try out an idea that came to me during the reading of Laurences suggested text, ‘hydro-feminism’. I wanted to enclose myself in an echo-chamber of my own making, to consider what it is about those spaces that we are drawn to? Do they have uses? What can we do to disrupt them?

I did order a ‘zorb’ football to use as an inflatable bubble but it didn’t arrive (it was actually lost!), so I created version 1 of the bubble using bubble-wrap.

At lunch-time, after the morning session where we had started to look at some of the films and get into the initial discussion of dissent, and acts of rebellion, I encased myself in the bubble. I sat in the canteen with a box of materials next to me and a sign inviting passers by to ‘disrupt’ my echo-chamber. Initially Maija began by scratching the surface of the bubble, blowing on and around it and peering in. I hadn’t expected to feel so anxious initially. There was a sense of the space being invaded, and that I wasn’t enclosed enough.

However, that soon went, I think because I began a conversation on scraps of paper with another audience member. This person engaged with me and I decided to engage back, but slowly and through posting scraps of paper through the small gap at the top of the bubble.

I considered within the bubble the idea of safety, and that perhaps we need to feel safe or confident when we wish to dissent. When we feel this way the actions and conversations we have, regardless of content and points of view feel more possible perhaps?

In the bubble I also thought about rules. Rules of engagement and normal interaction. I felt it necessary to respond to the audience. I had been asking them to disrupt me, to disregard normal social rules. I myself was sat in a bubble, a very visible and literal barrier to normal social rules, but when the audience engaged with me, I felt compelled to respond in the ‘correct’ way. By replying.

rules of ash

The Dissent is what, to dissent is what, the map is gone to dust and ash, removed is the controls, the lines , the borders, the rules are mine.

1: all are excluded, they are inside, we are outside.
2: CAS is outside, they are the bonds between the spaces, between the inside and outside, you will be given the ash to dissent, to build, use, remake, Genesis will be thine!!!!!!

thinking of pirates and ghosts

Laurence gave us thoughts and introduced ‘Hydrofeminism’, certain lines really caught me, ideas relating to the notion of water having been constantly living and lived, it having history, recycled, so are we all ingesting the Ghosts of the water, the lives it has been part of, so will there be ghosts within the waters around us in WSA, will we as water beings be carrying ghosts and where does this leave us? Nicolas Bourriaud and his book The Exform talks of many things that relate to the theme of inside/outside. i will re-read, try to understand this better!

new world of ash

The map has held me for a long time. I am a prisoner to the places that I am connected to and ultimately longing for, within this connection, this embrace, an unrequited love. I am outside, when once part of the inside. The memories that I have lost, the ones that I search and long for are now decimated, they are brother and sister to the scorched earth and politics of our time, the lost time is embers among the soil, among the blackened parchment, once lines and markers of territory for men. The map is burning, it will become ash and from the ruin, Genesis will begin to make a new world.


An Encounter

my first cross group encounter

Maija (M for short)
thank you for walking with me
whispering, breaking free for awhile
from your soapbox constraints
a self imposed 1.5×1.5 white void
in this confined space
can you let yourself be?

back to your verse M
it has stirred my midnight sleep
allowing me to leap about
with my words
tentatively flowing out

Read More

Initial thoughts….

My views are sometimes strong but I nearly always have fluidity in my views and opinions. (My partner finds this frustrating as hell). I can be persuaded by some good arguments, maybe not always to change my stance, but definitely to see another side. I feel like I flow very much with other humans…… as a child and younger woman this was very much around wanting to be liked…. Then this moved more to empathy and diplomacy…sometimes avoiding conflict……. Now…. it’s probably a mixture, but maybe it is also about this fluidity between each other. Sharing space….. Sharing water energy…… protecting our own space and water, our bodies…. Our emotional energy…

“Particularly within the French feminist tradition of écriture feminine, the fluid body of woman is invoked as a means of interrupting a philosophical tradition that both valorizes a male (morphological, psychological, symbolic, philosophical) norm, and elides the specificity of “woman.” Astrida Neimanis

There is a ‘fear’ of fluidity/flux… things or bodies that are ‘unstable’ or ‘different. Pregnant bodies…… diseased bodies…… bodies that change or are different, and a power shift with these bodies… children who are growing… have less power. When pregnant, women often feel less control over their own bodies and there is an assumed power given/taken by medical professionals during this time, which also happens for bodies when someone is ill and certainly this definitely happens with relation to disability too doesn’t it?…