Structural Slippage: A Response to Between Here and There, by Daze Jefferies
Island-blooded beginnings + endings shape the after-world still distant. T/here at the eastern intertidal, touching blue and social difference, drifts away her ethno-historicized origin without corporeal form. Alongside ocean, her haunting is inborn, hidden in the skin of a salt devil’s purse. She longs to confront what the water remembers – a passage of conquest, merchantry, privilege. Crossing the geopolitical borders and structural slippage of a sea-swallowed rock. What is survived has been washed with the shame of whiteness and its dead impossibility. Erect and risen to her neck ungoverned are inherited currents of short-lived desire. Can she know more than the throes of colonial, capital, and cultural melancholic tides?
Soon as she turns to her people’s art history, the force of extraction surfaces again. Missus from away paints watercolour wharves and wins all kinds of local awards while rare toy cameras in the hands of townie boys uphold a timeworn tradition of capture. How they depart, an outport ravished, enacting the method of man’s perambulations. Scattered few seashores and unfamiliar stomping grounds marked by the presence of IPAs shattered. At the foot of a cliff (eroding, faster) they toke and take until the money dries up, but another grant proposal is yet to be written. Last of their kind for second unended, and in those heart-eyes, fisherfolk can’t even spell or pronounce them terms of preservation, so a narrative of danger is needed to convince some fully urban jury of what’s at stake. 15k for a summer in the sticks – the impact of which will remain no secret. Living traditions of littoral trouble, forgotten and fabulated time and time again.
Which configurations of art-based knowing are gatekept by the institutional fisheye? For lifetimes over, multiform nature-cultures found/ered at the fleeting edges of this region (roughened in its terms of embrace and survivance) have been taunted by thresholds of touristic trade. A system of arrival, acquisition, and abandonment. Given these gaudy demands of the state. Even though the cod have disappeared, m’dear, there are handcrafted fillets to claim and conjure rushes or ruins of a wayward wild. Ever as homelands and settlements wait for the foretold ends of loss and evulsion, esoteric images and artifacts change into yet another passing possession. How does the work of misrecognition, then, shape the way that artists make imagined communities? With minimal supports and steadfast movements. Tethered to a nexus of ineffable perceptions. Netting the absent, gentle and glitching, inscriptions from an extant temporality of witnessers.
Material-affective, a practice of relation asks for being-with the known unknown. Held in place by the North Atlantic vista: Indigenous, diasporic, migrant, subaltern, queer, and trans labours of contemporary artistry engender near futures of collective becoming. Invoking an otherwise ethico-political environment for these transitory times, artists positioned at the unsettled margins of a spent and extractive cultural market embody apparitions of a kinship-to-come. When and where a worlding praxis. Emergent in the spacelessness between here and there, the gallery shows me a futurity filled with willful sensibilities and vocalizations. My gaze as a settler + trans girl + sex worker registers a trio of other-looking insights. I meet the exhibition as a call for encounter with situated knowledges invariably shifting. Shorelines of spiritual-spatial exchanges. Selves and species storied and silent. Together an intersubjective alliance of unruly bodies resounding against the white noise of Newfoundland’s colonial archive.
carried by a dream-like deep revolution, now
endlessly more-than-human faraway distorted
will you meet her at the foreshore waiting it out?
Daze Jefferies (she/her) is a sixth-generation white settler artist, writer, and researcher born and raised in the Bay of Exploits on the northeast coast of rural Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). Working with archives, found beach materials, queer ephemera, oral histories, sound, poetry, sculpture, theory, performance, and illustration, her research-based creative practice engages with the ocean as a body of loss to form washy, wayward, and withheld counter-narratives of trans and sex worker histories at the water’s edge. What emerges from this precarious assemblage is a story of time, drift, and transition that finds hope in the changing North Atlantic. Her research-creation and multidisciplinary projects have been exhibited at Eastern Edge, The Rooms, Unscripted Twillingate, Inverness County Centre for the Arts, and Cape Breton University Art Gallery, as well as performed widely at festivals, theatres, and house shows in St. John’s – including HOLD FAST, Lawnya Vawnya, FemFest, and Out of Earshot. Co-author of Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands, she has recent publications in Journal of Folklore Research, Feral Feminisms, Riddle Fence, HELD, The Dalhousie Review, and Arc.