Islandness

Skills: environmental performance, feminist practice, site-responsive performance

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Islandness and Spatial histories of Longing is a collaboration with Joanne Paterson Kinniburgh. Our project began with a proposal and subsequent invitation to create an installation within the context of the symposium “Performing, Writing,” hosted by Massey University, in Wellington, New Zealand (March 2017) .  As collaborators we were immediately drawn to the idea of islandness and the kind of site islandness could provide for us to respond to the spatial boundaries and thresholds of our real and imagined encounters with the histories and hauntings of longing and love, as well as to consider performing with and through themes of longing, desire, and love.

with longing I am more than I otherwise would have been

coming through rain shadow

I no longer know where I end and you begin

A goal we shared in the making of this project was to engage with the spatial narratives of (be)longing that have resonated for hundred’s of years with the cultural and social histories of those who occupied or longed to occupy Matiu Island, New Zealand. Matiu is a landmass rising from the Wellington harbour as the spittle of  Te Ika o Maui; historically a place desired and contested by every people to encounter Whanganui-a-Tara. We developed the content and performative aspects of the project by responding to archival documents, generating a discourse through words and images, testing materials and their scale, as well as exploring how desire and  longing, resilience  and vulnerability , are manifest i n the geographical precarity of Matiu  Island; that is its proximity to the Wellington fault which is directly bounded by two-second order fault lines.

Our project is mostly about reaching out, a desire for connection, and how we have come to attune ourselves with the manifold ways that longing is performed and materializes. In this essay we consider islandness, and therefore longing, as a performative and spatial-temporal practice for feeling (dis)connection.  Writing through themes of islandness, longing, and love, in this work we navigate  writing performatively as a site for tracing, ghosting, thickening , as well as proliferating, our experience of Matiu’s histories of longing. For us, islandness is an embodied practice of situating ourselves in the spatiality and materiality of longing;  that is performing through the places, geographies,  and contingencies of the  ‘in between.’’

sky

water 

time

 distance 

pixels

silence

the night

memories

 weakness, even

become the landscape for longing 

longing is the landscape of desire