Of Water: Internal Matters and Political Identity, 2021

I produced these images (comprised of scans of drawings, digitally edited and arranged into collages) in parallel with an essay I wrote entitled "Of Water: Internal Matters and Political Identity," published in the second issue of March International. The issue, themed "Black Ecologies," was guest edited by Imani Jacqueline Brown. An extract from my intro:

"Through its embeddedness in organic earthly happenings, water stores both ancient memory and the possibility of its own mutation in infinite futures. And as a result of its central role in any colonial project, water also experiences and is subject to the crude capitalistic forces of taxonomy and commodification. People, being predominantly water-based in composition, bear this simultaneity in our bodily functions—deeply connected to an expansive planetary memory, but also forced to regenerate through colonial mechanisms of reproduction as an unavoidable contamination.

If neoliberal capitalist forces compress, flatten, and/or otherwise limit matter—including the matter we are made of—our strategy should be to reconnect with that matter, and therefore ourselves, in raw, expanded, and historic forms. Efforts towards deep matter recovery are encoded into our bodily functions, moving inside us, like, and with, water. In this text, I read, write, and draw from a disciplinarily-disassociated position, moved by perspectives on water from the sociological, spiritual, political, and ecological to the entirely abstract and intuitive. This collected purview allows us to recognize that water itself both disrupts, and is disrupted by, taxonomy and—due to its unbordered, undisciplined, often invisible life-supporting nature—is constantly subject to capture-attempts. I attend to the nebulous matters of Blackness (Black Consciousness) and queerness as political identity formations whose opaque strategies are embodied—metaphorically and literally, in-body—by water’s essential qualities of motion and shape-shifting. This essay takes form as two compressions, one matter analysis, two decompressions, and four drawings."