On Falling by Marina Miliou Theocharaki for the inaugural issue of Tamaas
Although English is present, please imagine that this talk is given in a language where sounds don’t suffice for comprehension. You really don’t know what I am talking about because it’s my own tongue that is moving manically in endless directions, restless, fighting the walls of my mouth. I am the only one who feels its unruliness against these dental borders. Its auditory identity is in the process of being lost. I am othered by myself, and I by you, and you by me-everyday, all of us infiltrated by cultural generalizations that prescribe our sociopolitical movement, identity and time frame.
My perception of time is flexed and transfigured by forces I have no access to. I think of my history as a body in repair, a land with no horizon where the sea can’t be distinguished from the sky. A sea of boiling waters. If I could narrate, my limbs transform into bubbles, my pores flood with liquid and the scene evaporates before my eyes. How can I be the only observer of own death? This land is distant, tactile murderous and selfish. It infiltrates my skin; it is waxing the decapitated statues, judging my stasis and questions my need for return.
Once your ground was undocumented and the dimensions of your landscape palpable, flexible, porous. At first certainty was always, and later just maybe. Borders were for fools as straight lines for the rest. We built homes on your branches, fell and climbed up again. We used to slice your soil with our palms separating stones from dirt and as your ground lay inside us you occupied the misty space between our fingernails. Swimming was an ownership, a harmless escape. The rule was to swim for longer than expected. I recall flapping my small body in your waters, the ones that become saltless once they part lands. The miniature figures along the shore were lying flat and voluntarily melting into your sand, consciously guarding my gaze. At that age, belonging wasn’t questioned and I never thought that privilege could be reverberation of my freedom. I was confident I knew how to build pillars out of dust, hold your history in my ovaries and balance your flag on my forehead. Now swimming is prohibited. Cement and wired sculptures have replaced your soggy walls.
We exist with an interval of time where space is congested and the urgency within it questionably heavy. The collision of time and bodies has become too prevalent to ignore and aging is accelerated. As Tamaas editors, we took a step, we realized we have gone too far, we leaped back, paused, listened and considered. How can we better illustrate the circular repetitive and persistent existence of the present moment without anticipating a so-called end that relentlessly change confronts us with? This end is groundless and becomes an it– it then recycles itself into a never-ending loop of exciting appropriation. We yearn for resistance, reversal and the recovering of time, information, poetry, language and we fight for revealing silenced exchanges.
How is this urgency of preserving a fluidity of contemporary moment relevant to artists, writers, movers and transnational bodies? Why is pausing, questioning and calculating one’s collective powers considered an illogical action and compared to the process of failure or falling? How can we fall without fear of landing? Hito Steryel in her essay In Free Fall describes, “falling [is] relational if there is nothing to fall toward, you may not even be aware that you’re falling. If there is no ground, gravity might be low and you’ll feel weightless. Objects will stay suspended if you let go of them. Whole societies around you may be falling just as you are. And it may actually feel like perfect stasis.-as if history and time have ended and you can’t even remember that time ever moved forward. ”(Steyerl, Hito. “In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective.” The Wretched of the Screen. New ed. Berlin: Sternberg, 2012. 13. Print) Tamaas aims for that state of conscious powerful belonging while in cohesion; as if movement is shared and diverse rhythms parallelled. We negate the fictional concept of borders and find loopholes in time as we resist swimming in any prescribed directionality. We aspire in weaving a liquid thread into each artist’s lives and while in silence to lubricate loud dynamic exchanges. We aim to rub the grounds, so landing is soft and has no classifying distinction from falling. We aim to faithfully keep tongues moving without forcing them to mold on any prescribed lingo or prototype.
I guess now the questions at stake for culturally conscious, caring, diasporic, and ethnically non-conforming communities include the following: Who defines space and how can socio-politically fixed territories productively infest and corrupt on each other’s symptomatic individualism via critical exchange and creativity? Who is seen and who remains unseen and how do we comprehend and resist the contemporary phenomenon of the other that strategically produces collective identities, habitus and cultural capital? Why is movement and space rights that one has to fight for and how can we melt these theoretical borders and break down the vertical status quo for the sake of horizontality?
Tamaas is a product of raw urgency, that attempts to reassemble disjoined diasporic clusters in a seamless platform and bring international thinkers closer while defying the given sociopolitical divisions that dictate and produce distance, hierarchies, ends, grounds and landings after prolonged falling. Our hope is to connect distant modes of being and making, with the hope of being felt, seen and remembered differently, our hope is to invite, shout out loud, invert, alter, multiply, experiment and accept falling as a productive mode of transnational exchange and acceptance that defies othering and the stereotypical and offensive modes of cultural, ethnic, or gender normalities.