In a room of one's own
An outburst of covid-19 epidemic reached Scotland during March 2020. Universities decided to shut down the buildings promptly, suddenly all the students were packing their works, tools and materials as if they are fleeing. A week before, we were having exhibition openings and workshops; a week after, we started another living style and were genuinely afraid of the contagious air outside our window. I spent almost every minute in the flat I lived in and stopped my usual daily businesses especially for those which required getting out. The restrictions were somehow similar to the way I worked with art, that I put myself in a certain environment doing nothing, which also reminded me of the waiting process when I make my artworks, only I could not decide when to stop the waiting. This time, we were waiting for the moment to be safe and free again which no one really knew whether it would come or not, and we were forced not to give up the waiting, in order to survive.
In workshops with students I ask them just to open the door and close the door, as slowly as possible. You don’t go in and you don’t go out, you just do this for one hour, for two hours or for five hours. Then the door stops being the door and becomes something else. (Abramovic, 2009)
I made the distance from the edge of my living room to the end of my bedroom as my thinking path, which is inspired from Darwin’s “Sandwalk” where he walked on daily and did much of his thinking. (Macfarlane, 2013) Unlike Darwin, who made the path as a unit to measure the “length” of his thought, my thinking path is all about walking, or the presence during walking. When walking on this path, I passed old wooden floor, which were full of big cracks and shiny nail heads. Then there was carpet, like a soft grass land. I have learned to avoid the slippery edges of carpet and the squeaky area of wooden floor, but they then turned into a part of landscape once I took it as a micro journey. I could feel hot water running through pipes under the floor which connected to radiators, the warmth from angled sun in the afternoon, and the chillness air during halfway where no sunlight could reach.
My footprints on the surface of landscape slightly extend the duration of my trace in the river of time, leaving the mark of my existence. It then, of course, disappears in a blink. I think about the purpose of making art and exploring the idea of time. Every process is merely a tiny segment of massive accumulation, and what we have done, are doing and will do is to create, or to capture, meanings from every fleeting present. From my first step on the island of Outer Hebrides to small flat in Edinburgh, every environment I encountered, every inspiration I picked up, every decision I made, is the essence of any output in physical form. We are beings of our own, but we can never be separated with time, space and other matters that surround us. The trace will vanish, the process will be forgotten. For me, all the time I spent on living is already in art time. (Heathfield, 2009)
Abramovic, M., 2009. When Time Becomes Form. In: Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh. Cambridge: The MIT Press, pp. 351-352.
Macfarlane, R., 2013. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. London: Penguin Books Ltd.
Heathfield, A., 2009. I Just Go in Life: An Exchange with Tehching Hsieh. In: Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh. Cambridge: The MIT Press, pp. 319-339.
My thinking path: from living room to bedroom.