The Conch, Sea Urchin and Brass Bell: Zadie Xa @ Pumphouse Gallery


Emoji summary: 🐚 ➰ 🌊

When I came in I was thirsty

I lost my water bottle from Taiwan;;; apparently it was ‘drink more water’ branded

i don’t like buying endless plastic bottles,,, i save and reuse them so i only ever buy beautiful ones (bc they last me). all of July i used the same fiji water bottle that wouldn’t fit in my backpack so i carried it round with me in my hand during the heatwave. I leant into accessorising with it.

It bothers me that all that plastic will end up in the sea, but i don’t know where to buy those nice metal canteens with a screw top cap.

I say a lot that summer in London feels like rolling scenery in a sitcom, when they’re in a car and not moving anywhere but there are hedgerows and post boxes passing them by. i know everyone’s on holiday except me. i always find myself looking for something to break that scenery rolling feeling. the conch, sea urchin and brass bell felt like that.

Gab wrote a few weeks ago about MIMA’s summer shows, and art that wasn’t instagrammable;;; how that could be a good thing, to not walk round a show and look thru content-creator eyes; but to actually fe~eel sincerely truly be present and present and all of a sudden be back in the room. i read it, recognised it, agreed with it. but then this show threw things off for me a bit.

This show is very instagrammable, and i’m ok with it because it looked so good thru my eyes, but as soon as i opened camera, it had shifted and i had missed the moment. i couldn’t understand why, nothing moved fast at all. It was all so loose and everything felt like floating;;; but not in a dreamy, smooth jazz, tap tap fish background noise kind of way. In an intense, ’this is happening now’ kinda way. it felt like being swept along by the currents, a firm hand in the small of your back;,;,;,;, leading but not pushing, never forcing. i think it just never stopped, it kept going all at a gentle pace. It felt like a smooth film, like soft wet pasta sliding off ur fork. Gentle but insistent.

MY GOD, i appreciate and respect and value and heavily weight that feeling,

the ability to balance that tone, what a fine delicate line that is.

i have been searching for it for so long, and when i found it, i didn’t know how to recognise it,

it felt like such an alien shape, i didn’t realise this was what it was until now.

this show knew itself, its own body so well. it already has its own emoji review

it didn’t need me to tell it what it is. this is just fluff now

the show just kept going, walking ahead without waiting for you to catch up, so you widen ur gait, speed up ur steps to catch up, walk shoulder to shoulder, footsteps matching. there was no time to instagram, i was being led along by the current at my back.

it was like being in a dream in that way.

Narrative that moved on without waiting for u.

So to me, it didn’t matter that it was instagrammable af; bc nothing looked as good on my camera roll as it did with my eyes. I never felt it was right to wait and get the right shot, i didn’t want to spend the time on that and fall behind. i wanted to travel with the pack, lean back into the force and let it take me.

Having said that tho;;; this show was an ultimate flex.

I have seen some of these works around and about before,, we r acquainted but i don;t think they know my name?

i have seen the garment hanging on the wall;; fishscales and poisonous darts, 2016

i have also seen the films;;; deep space mathematics // the transfer of knowledge 1, 2 & 3, 2016

before they felt like bits. I think they were like lil tasters - - — amoose bewsch

i don’t know how to explain it;;; i thought i was familiar bc i recognised them and had seen them around town// // // but like

i hadn’t seen them like this, they felt so different (of course)

it is such a difficult thing for me to describe,,,, but like.. imagine seeing a bit, not recognising it as a bit until u see i in its final form

majestic and tall, surrounded by its friends and ur like “ooooh, ok, so this is who you are.. this all makes sense to me now”

all the works felt so full and so whole and like a full body flavour

like like like wine swirling in a glass, moving as one round the apex, round the middle hole, one body like a solid as it moves

flopping back down as a liquid mass, all together always together stronger fuller better together

i appreciate solo shows bc artists can work a kind of magic.

like full body flavour, full body display, a whole room, set the tone, set the stage, prepare me to be undressed by it all.

Zadie Xa, if u r reading this, i think u did this rly well and i didn’t realise how well u did it until i watched the film on the top floor (the conch, sea urchin and brass bell)

I watched the whole thing beginning to end and a lil bit more for luck.

it was only when i watched the whole film that i realised what everything on the floors below me was doing.

that’s what i mean by current, by full body wine, moving as a solid. that’s what i mean by bits.

like leaving lil breadcrumbs, i was following and eating as i went.

it felt like a slow build, heavy climax as i walked away through the park.

it all made sense with the film, all the other works orbited it.

I liked that i saw the satellites around it before i saw it itself.

That drama, that heavy mystery, the big reveal. it feels like a theatrical way to make sure i understand.

mY GOD, I believe in theatre now.

the heavy eyed mysticism,

blinking slow as i readjust to the light and realise i spent an hour and a half in there

it didn’t feel that long.

truly, it was a feature length show and like Hollywood, well crafted

the time slipped by like wet spaghetti on a fork, thru the prongs, through my lips

moist mouth, hit me in the face on the way back down.

The Conch, Sea Urchin and Brass Bell, by Zadie Xa is on @ Pumphouse Gallery until 24th September

(PS: writing this review felt like a bit of a lie.

i feel more and more like i post-rationalise a bit too far, i am not true enough to my immediate gut reaction

maybe i re-shape my initial feelings, maybe that’s fine

but here, for transparency, are my notes i made in the gallery.

u can see where i figured things out later without me having to specify them

u can see what i thought outside the tyranny of whole sentences (not that i ever bother with whole sentences HA)

u get two accounts of an impact.)

How do u stand on sand without sinking

Skin slipping against wet rock; 3D fx green screen flames flattened and thin

i like that flatness i wonder what it means

The right level of HD and lo fi just enuf to be an aesthetic choice, leaning in not quite completely but enuf enuf it’s enuf for me

Underwater club land post colonial post land dwelling skin slippery rubbery glowing wafting with the sea breeze wave emoji glitter lipgloss octopus skin glistening like a 3dmodel

In a cave it is damp dark finally another opening

Is this sci fi?

Is this fiction? Is it even narrative, is it just an aesthetic flex?

The film upstairs on the top floor is so beautiful so fucking glossy and sticky and it feels like a moist mouth

i wish the floor was wet in here i wish i could hear myself walking around it’d be so good to ground me in time and space i feel like i am slipping away

I think I wanted more from the space tho; it felt like sci fi but I wanted some drama, not as much as on the floor below, I just wanted to feel like the room matched the film. Bc the film made me feel like I was somewhere else, the room brought me back every time I blinked.

so i’m not sure if i was in the room or not

Loud bang; lilac flowers; persimmon is a beautiful word, purple sticky rice, stomping feet head down against the clouds;;; sea scape not to scale

The fabric costumes felt feral. i love that word.

Yesterday I tweeted about how romantic it would be to go back to nature; holiday in a cabin in the woods

I thought someone was talking outside, it was the film. I love that slight of hand. Like magic like illusion like a skin over my ears and eyes

Omg it literally was someone outside talking loudly lololooooololol

what actually is fashion film? and why is it always dreamy.

this reminds me of the apichatpong weerasethakul in the tanks @ tate, something about the dreamy feeling the darkness and the pace

theres a stick and some little spikey shells that look like sea urchins on the floor

a room has this crazy pattern of lights and shadows in red and green over a wall with a figure in the middle, a black hoodied figure with a face, a bit like No Face from Spirited Away

a video of a jellyfish