Impossible vessels

posted in: Davina Kirkpatrick | 2
vessels made from swans feathers with hands screen printed onto them
vessels made from swans feathers with hands screen printed onto them

I have been mending and tweaking the impossible feather vessels that have my hands screen-printed on them, thinking about how they hold emptiness, wanting to somehow use the vessels and the image of my cupped hands with mine and Dolores Steinman’s cloud images for our collaboration as part of ARE (Art, Resilience, Economy Network). (I will post more about this as the collaboration develops). In part, sparked by reading and sharing with her Massive and Microscopic: Autoethnographic Affects in the Time of COVID by Anne Harris and Stacey Holman Jones. This is turn was sent me by Australian artist and PhD student Dawne Fahey that I am working with on another collaboration with Dr. Alys Mendus for the Critical Autoethnograpy Conference at the end of September (and subject of a more in-depth blog post in the future).  

Are we filling the void to give shape to loss or preparing ourselves for our own death?

I read her this from my PhD thesis

Lacan’s notion of mourning differs dramatically from Freud’s in that he argues that death creates a “hole in the real…a rupture that calls for symbolic reparation” and “we are only in mourning about someone whom we can say I was his lack (j’etais son manque)” (quoted in Leader 2008:162 and Boothby 2013:210-211). Death closes this ‘open space of lack’. There is the physical lack of the person and this other infinitely unchangeable lack that was always present but now has no possibility of changing. It suggests we are always negotiating and living with what is inaccessible in the other and the ‘enigma of the other’s desire’. This in death becomes augmented, breaking apart the delicate balance of symbolic lack and desire. (Boothby 2013:210-211)  

The commonalities and the differences of Covid experiences, the collective experience of not being in control, how that brings us closer to experiences of death and loss. The importance of ritual to hold us as we walk with death. How do we create new rituals when the old ones are not possible?

2 Responses

  1. Iain Biggs

    I really appreciate this. I suspect the answer to your question about ritual is as much an issue of a shift of mentality as to what constitutes it as anything else.

  2. admin

    Thanks Iain glad it spoke to you, so much of my PhD thesis and the practice research it contained has taken on a new cadence in these pandemic times.

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