Edited by Rachel Ciesla and Jaxon Waterhouse
Heart of Hearts
Rachel Ciesla and Jaxon Waterhouse hold architecture and our physical selves in balance, to explore both as places of residence. Our homes weather damage and can be fixed, and equally, most of us are faced with the problem of ‘how to fix a hole in yourself’. At face value, the overlapping metaphor of body and home is straightforward, but when mediated through the site of the Bundoora Homestead, we see it is a weighty concept. Bundoora holds the indelible mark and erasure of colonialism, complex memory as a convalescent farm and later psychiatric facility, was a place for trade and later a wonderful home to the arts.
‘Healing Practices’, an exhibition in 2019 curated by Ciesla, comprises an artist-led dialogue faced with the matrix that is this site. The resulting compilation of artist and text-based responses are laced with the notion that life is non-linear, and therefore healing is durational.
‘Translate’ a poem by Bahar Sayed opens the book with a meditation on identity and trauma, and unwittingly sets the tone for the personal works to come in the title – ‘something that could be understood but never grasped’.
A reproduction of the work ‘Immigration/ Granulation’ by Zaiba Khan and Stanislava Pinchuk traces the personal journey of each artist united in several images where the body (through tattoo and jewellery) is presented as both the record and site of the record. Similarly addressing wounds to communicate healing, Dima Alhayat (2019) by Duha Ali and Justine Youssef is a video installation in which resin (bukhur) is burnt to ward off the ‘evil eye’. Ritual is an important aspect of the other practices, and at the centre of Katie West’s ‘tea-making’, a process whereby serving others she encourages mindfulness – both self-reflection and an awareness for the present moment they inhabit. These sensuous and solemn visual art projects are complemented in the ‘Healing Practices’ with moving text-based works from; Sayed, Hanann Al Daqqa and Chantelle Mitchell.
Spliced between our present-day creative voices are archival images of the ‘past life’ of the Bundoora Homestead, an eerie window into the built form which infiltrate(d) interior worlds.