Reflections on the Residency

Susannah Jo Foster

The residency closes in two days and I’m not sure if I’m any closer to connecting with my ancestors and feeling a part of deep time. However, I have had some experiences that have related to this and made me think about things. Firstly, listening to Leigh Ewbank and Cam Walker speak about activism, and the story of how a female Aboriginal elder scared a room full of suits by saying that her ancestors were listening to the discussion, and they would know if everyone was speaking the truth. I’ve also spent some time in the Decolonised Reading Room, consuming texts by PoC. So much of the stuff available is focused on African Americans. They have defined the contemporary narrative, which has been invaluable… but for my sake I wish that there was some more punchy contemporary writing about Polynesians, or mixed race people.

While I am writing this, a group of Japanese tourists comes into the space. They are all wearing dark suits and there is a translator with them. Joe starts to describe the collective’s aims and they stand in a semi circle, quite seriously taking in the translation. A few people take photos of me writing and lounging on the comfortable terrain.

I say, “you can lie down if you want!” but nobody wants to, or perhaps they don’t have time, or don’t want to remove their shoes.

After three minutes they are rushing out, thanking me politely, onto the next room. I wish we had made a resting room that was seductive enough to tempt a few away from their carefully curated tour.

A few days ago, when I was documenting my Prestige Fan work, my cousin called me to say that our other cousin’s child, due to be born any day now, will be born with severe physical issues that require surgery. She worries that that part of the family are not strong, resourceful enough, to be able to deal with this.

I tell her that, “time will tell.”

She asks about her brother, we’ve been hanging out a bit lately since his marriage went south. I tell her he’s fine, working out his mid-life crisis but he’s sworn me to secrecy. She says she understands, and in turn swears me to secrecy about the baby, although, I argue, won’t everyone know in a few days?

Afterwards I shed a few tears reading Kiese Laymon’s How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America in the Decolonised Reading Room.

I realise that I am a quite impatient person while making my Prestige Fan work. The wind patterns at Testing Grounds are very unpredictable, meaning I need to hit record indefinitely, hoping that something will happen. I often come onto the site to find that the work has moved with the wind overnight, when I as not there to witness it.

A few days later I’m recording again and the wind is flinging my sculptures from one side to another, hardly giving them a chance to use their wheels. They move in a funny way, sometimes flipping themselves over and then back again without any human intervention. I wonder, if I just left them alone, would they go ahead on their own unrecorded, tangling themselves up and falling over and back up again in deep time.

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One thought on “Reflections on the Residency”

  1. I wish you deep deep time suzie. Me? Most days I feel I’m on the edge of time. Walking around the rim. Hoping to meet myself at some point.

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