The Sea Calms Down When..
Cement, camel milk, frankincense, indigo, henna, wine, maggots, fungi, and various living organisms
Borne out of her personal research into how culture has been inscribed onto the female body throughout history, Da uses her own body and its fluids as an instrument to create installations. From the starting point of an exploration of the body as sculpture and looking inwards for materials she has moved onto a study of the female body in culture, which is surrounded by shame and fear in so many belief systems. In her research process, she has examined the evolution of attitudes to female genitalia from being celebrated and worshipped to being tabooed. The name of the first writing system, cuneiform, which dates back to c.3100 BCE, derives from ‘kunta’ the word for woman, precursor to the word ‘cunt’, now used as a swear word and insult.
The Sea Calms Down When.. are a series of cement ‘yoni’ sculptures scattered throughout the space. In their creation, Da has taken inspiration from the Indian Shaktist fertility festival which celebrates the earth’s monthly cycle. Offerings are placed in hollowed-out stone sculptures. During the course of the month-long exhibition, Da tended to these shrines in a series of daily rituals. The viewer witnessed the remnants of her gestures and offerings and their transfiguration over the duration of the show. The evolving appearance and smell of the shrines pervaded the space and marked the passing of time. Organic offerings such as camel milk broke down, functioning as a momento mori. Two new performative videos offer a foretaste of these physical rituals.
For her solo show, Da has transformed Satellite space into a meditative space through sound, scent, lighting, rituals, and objects. She conceived instinctive rituals, influenced by ancestral philosophies pertaining to women’s fertility. The work is a reflection on the temporality of our physical form. Many rituals and religious practices are about transcending the physical body, into a higher sphere. The artist here aims to explore the genderless soul by utilising its physical vessel.