Emma Aurelia : Residual Skeins -Morris Fox
“Words cast each by each to weather avowed indisputably, to time. If it should impress, make fossil trace of word, Residue of word, stand as a ruin stands, Simply, as mark Having relinquished itself to time to distance” --Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictée, p. 151
I see Emma Aurelia’s exhibition Hold Yourself Together as an impress, a mark or residue of her practice of a voice that is enfolded between boundaries of operations (code work), between the alive and lost, the trace and embodied, between place, language and memory. I find myself reflecting on her work through attempting to define a metaphoric and poetic key, the skein. Skein is measurement is the loosely wound and entwined threads or yarn, it doubles over and over, knotted. The skein with its sounds-like of skin or scheme, intimates at an entangled temporality, and the interconnectivity of memory and tactile traces. A component, a filament, an interlace forming part of a composite or convoluted whole. A fabricated skin, cloth is a decaying vessel.
I look to “a measure arbitrary”, a woven sandbag which through an act of erasure does not quite hold its contents. Grains leak out, yet the container also holds onto its measure of what is needed. This capacity of the porous membrane of cloth/memory/skin(skein) recalls the good-enough, an unpretentious imperfection of the vessel and its leakage. Sand eludes to time, to memory, which slips through the weave. Running counter to mechanization’s command towards a reproducibility or facsimile, fabrication as well, Emma’s hand works as an intermediator of the object that is produced, she situates herself as a displacer, displacing and erasing the trajectory of the programmed rule in favour of vectors of possibilities. The work then elides itself to the process of weaving where the warp and the weft intimates at memory & forgetting, ones and noughts, wave forms, sound waves, the strike of a pedal on the loom, the shuttle back and forth. In “a measure arbitrary” this interweaving of medias and the gaps left for the visitor plays on notions of rustling—both to produce something as needed, and a movement, a rhythm of soft disintegration--a [dis]integer of the source code.
An array of pastel drawings of urns on paper media, “the leaking pot is also full” reminds us of cloths partiality for pattern, repetition, difference. Lines that delineate, the medium that suspends the pigment is like a wax, perhaps recalling a funeral mask. An impression of the mourned, a tactile medium, one that holds, holds onto both the pigment and the image it creates, the objects transmit this mnemonic quality, carrying personal memory through an accretive process, each drawing adding to, complicating and enriching the previous iteration. Emma’s “the leaking pot is also full” acknowledges the slipping of a memory, yet repetition allows her to contain layers of meaning—the literal repetition of her hand creating the work pronounces the mimesis of her own visual practice; an act of both resembling and reassembling the process of commemoration—a feedback loop that is both a sustained note and a form of distortion. Regardless of their form, pattern aesthetics offer modes of wrapping, of embrace, at once expressive and protective, yet always aware of chance failure and dispersal.
Emma Aurelia’s “the day that you died I watered my plants” a shadow-projection of a vessel containing water poetically clenches a silent requiem—grief, memory, a haunting interplay of light and shadow. Here instead of cloth, yet still within a coding capacity, the work creates a space of absent music. I consider the liminal state; it is both out of time and place but marks space and passage. It is a threshold, where the viewer stands waiting to be let in, or where one lingers in a displaced temporality. “the day that you died I watered my plants” resonates precisely because of the uncertainty of state/space it delineates, a soft work ensnaring the present, interlacing the threshold between the past and the future, not the trajectory. Memory, history, us, exists in an intangible hold. We haven’t left and we haven’t arrived. This liminal quality of the shadow projection is a vessel for transformation; everything has the potential to be contained, to lose nothing—this is passage, refuge, a becoming. “the day that you died I watered my plants”, performs, voicing a loss that becomes alive again in the threshold of projected shades. Emma speaks for and with what is lost, the lost speak through her—the vessel is simultaneously empty and filled with captured light.
“...textile artists have learned that emptiness heightens the poignancy of mutable presence. We work our strings, plucking and pausing, purposefully giving the moment away—bringing presence to absence and voice to voicelessness.” --Deborah Valoma (2010) Dust Chronicles, Textile 8:3, 260-268, p. 267
I would like to speak to Aurelia’s motorized piece “a picture of the water”, the way it gyrates—what are the poetics of this machine? The membranes mechanized gesture creates a movement in repeat, or a fall and rise, sometimes in an embrace with each other—towards a legible image and/or a fracturing of meaning. This revolving gesture, a slow flickering threshold between foreground and background, holds a symbolic meaning as well—a limit of memory—implying bodies that are absent, yet are also the water's weight. Emma’s work here is a movement, the scrims/skins passing through upheaval, represent a movement interred with language, marking the punctuation and rhythm of sound/waves, an intertextual gesture forming the silent points between the passages, in absence of the mute impression to re-enact the un-locatable threads of re-collection. As with “a measure arbitrary” where the distressed thread, the gaps and subtractions ([sub]stractions) become the counter structure, the noughts of the intangible (im)possibilities to recollect through and with memories disintegration— striations of a textual geography. “a picture of the water” is a littoral, the washed up on the embankment, a wave forms this an-archive as a white noise machine, a susurrus or whisper of what falls through the gap.
Hold Yourself Together is a displacement from memory and narrative, shuttling between what no longer exists and what is interred there-in.