Ritualistic Movements

December 2018 - A still from our video ‘Wrapping the Still’.

December 2018 - A still from our video ‘Wrapping the Still’.

In the summer of 2018 I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Canada with Dianne so that we could make some headway on our (then untitled) collaborative project, HEAVY SHINE. During this precious time, we were finally able to explore the many ideas we had only talked or written about up until that point via our countless emails, texts, and video calls.

One afternoon, while talking and thinking together in Dianne’s living room, someone (I can’t remember which one of us) suggested wrapping the other in the various fabrics we had collected. We took turns doing this, and filmed ourselves each time. We had carefully transported greenware and bisqued pieces from Dianne’s studio to her home, and we nestled or balanced these pieces gently around, atop, and between each other’s bodies.

For me, this process was one of the most meaningful and memorable moments of our time making together. As Dianne laid down on the floor in front of me, eyes closed, I began to work, thoughtfully and delicately arranging the folds of fabric and clay objects on and around her. It became an almost meditative task (one that I am sure would have felt very different for both of us had we not been such close friends for so many years). Honestly, I felt overwhelmed with love and the desire to take the most tender care of Dianne.

When it was my turn to lie down and be wrapped by Dianne, I remember the meditative feeling returning. With my eyes closed, my awareness of my own body, as well as Dianne’s, was heightened. I could feel her moving beside me. I could hear her breathe as she worked close to my head. The gentle pressure from the clay vessels being placed on my belly and chest was pleasurable - the objects’ weight acting as a reminder of being alive.

Through these considered actions, I feel we were able to connect to something we may not have been expecting. I’ve been thinking about the ritualistic nature of our movements; our still, prostrate, alive-yet-lifeless bodies being treated, cared for, tended-to… I thought of the mother swaddling her child; I thought of the adult child pulling the death-veil over her mother’s face.

Writing this now, thinkinh back to these actions between Dianne and I, I can feel the emotion swell inside of me. I wonder: perhaps our ancestors were speaking to us, trying to reach us… the many women who have come before us, calling out to us, through our hands, our touch, our beings.

July 2018 - A preliminary image taken in Dianne’s living room. This was the first time we wrapped one another.

July 2018 - A preliminary image taken in Dianne’s living room. This was the first time we wrapped one another.

ROBYN LEROY-EVANS