Letter For Those Who Were Unable to Attend by Bhanu Kapil
January 11th, 2022
Hi. This is Bhanu. I tried to make a small video message for you, as an after-gift or invitation, feeling that (yes) sometimes it’s not possible to attend. To arrive. To travel or be there. Something stops the day, or else: work, family duties, the time zone itself. This is the body.
I tried to make a video, but it turns out that I can’t make one that feels right. So I stopped. Perhaps it feels closer to the experience of the Sisterhood Camp to write you a letter. Also, I realize I don’t always think clearly when in visual or verbal mode. This is the first sentence I ever wrote in the United States, or one of them: “I write because I cannot paint.”
As this year begins, writer-artist-maker-weaver-sculptor, what will you put in the fire? Tomorrow, my mother reminds me, is a Spring festival, Lohri. There’s a fire, and sweets. “In our family, we don’t celebrate it.” She tells me the story of her aunt, who bled to death on this day, as she climbed a mountain to the shrine of Kali, who poked out her red tongue in dreams. I think often of this distant aunt, Shanta, and why she insisted on that walk, that ascent, on a day when, it’s said, she wasn’t feeling well. Sometimes, I understand that it’s because she wanted the blood to come.
In an AROHO demitasse two days ago, a small café meeting on Zoom, we spoke about the reality of our bodies making the art that we make. What sheds off. What’s observed through the window-pane. What’s left. What’s still arriving. What the frequency is.
And so, perhaps this letter is simply that, an attuning to you, the ones who weren’t able — because that is life — to be there at the time. To say: this is it. Is the feeling before writing, before painting, before making whatever it is that we make, the frequency? Or, as Karina said in the demitasse, is it the feeling in our bodies as we are: making? Is that the orbital’s warp, clasp, undulation or leap?
Through these words, typed as dusk falls in East England, the sky an indigo tilt, I send you a message of courage, love and hope. For your practice. For your work. For who you are becoming: alongside the thing that we’re calling the work.
Can you feel it? I have the feeling that you’re here, with us, as I write.
This letter is written weeks after the Sisterhood Camp and a few days after our last informal meeting, what I called “demitasse.”
Yet here we are, making our extreme or ordinary, on-going art, glancing up now and then to see another one of us making/shaping/typing at another point in this rough circle.
Is this the perimeter? Is this the hearth? I can’t make architecture out of frequency. Can you?
Or: what is the word or theme you will carry into the coming year?
Yours, in writing, on the last evening before Spring, elsewhere,