The Clearing: Melismatic Palimpsest
This focus of Prospections engages a multitude of temporal registers through shifting scales and rhythms. As an integral part of the exhibition and discursive project No Linear Fucking Time (2021–2022), the impetus is grounded on an apprehension that presently dominating constructions of time—as an abstracted linear flow that runs autonomously and ineffably—promote a worldview that is ultimately world-destructive, and is desperately in need of reexamination.
While walking through the “Nothing To Declare” arrivals gate at London Stansted Airport, Sam Keogh is confronted by three border guards: a pig, a unicorn, and a worried cartoon clock. Weaving fantasies of abundance and the abolition of work; of feasting and resting; of sabotage, anachronism, and the fucking-up of linear time, Pig Eater is the script to a monologue which was first performed as part of Keogh’s exhibition Sated Soldier, Sated Peasant, Sated Scribe, at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in London (2021).
“Dysfluent Waters” is a part of musician and writer JJJJJerome Ellis’s multi-faceted project The Clearing (book published by Wendy’s Subway and album of the same name released by NNA Tapes, 2021). Conceiving of the forest and its clearings as “sites of resistant black oralities for centuries,” Ellis explores how stuttering, blackness, and music can figure within practices of refusal against the hegemonic governance of time, speech, and encounter.
In her text “Dearest Zen (Letters to Lichen),” artist and scientist Adriana Knouf presents future love letters written to lichens, symbiotic organisms of fungi and algae or cyanobacteria. Through the lenses of xenology (Knouf’s term for the study, analysis, and development of the strange, alien, and other) and trans* temporalities, Knouf explores ways of learning from, and ecstatically participating in, cross-organismic intimacies and exchanges.
Drawing from her work as part of the Karrabing Film Collective, Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s essay “In Some Places the Not-Yet Has Long Been Already” (first published in Toward the Not Yet: Art as Public Practice, published by BAK and MIT Press, 2021) contrasts the temporal orientation of late settler liberalism—which is troubled by the coming catastrophes of climate collapse—with the ancestral catastrophes of coloniality and enslavement, which are both past and present. These ancestral catastrophes, she writes, “keep arriving out of the ground that colonialism and racism tilled, rather than emerging over the horizon of liberal progress.”
The No Linear Fucking Time Bibliography is an evolving resource which compiles selected scholarly and artistic texts relating to the various strands of study involved in this project. With hyperlinked key terms including “colonization of time,” “cyclical time,” “crip time,” “queer temporalities,” “carceral time,” and “time travel,” the constellation of sources is intended as a resource for research within the expansive and interrelated fields of critical time studies.