Himali Singh Soin
Setting the Stage for a Gathering of Friends, 2020
Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser)
Video, Colour, Stereo Sound | 10’ 35’’
Project 88, Mumbai, India

About the video:
Himali Singh Soin’s “Setting the Stage for a Gathering of Friends”, which was made in the heart of the pandemic of 2020, in Delhi, is about uncertainty, fear, chance, missed connections, false promises. The work is a return to something we once felt and a repetition of something we had never experienced. It charts the path of an Ensō (a special circle form in Zen Buddhism), a depiction of a “whole” or a “void”, a different cosmology, depending on the way you look at it, up-close or at a distance. The circle in the video holds together the improvised elements of free jazz and the disparate footnotes found in fortunes opened at random. It sets the stage for a gathering of friends and proposes that waiting can be a form of love. More...

About the artist:
Himali is a writer and artist based between London and Delhi. She uses metaphors from outer space and the natural environment to construct imaginary cosmologies of interferences, entanglements, deep voids, debris, delays, alienation, distance and intimacy. In doing this, she thinks through ecological loss, and the loss of home, seeking shelter somewhere in the radicality of love. Her speculations are performed in audio-visual, immersive environments. Soin's art has been shown at Khoj (Delhi), Somerset House, Mimosa House, Serpentine Gallery (London), Gropius Bau or the HKW (Berlin), Migros Museum (Zurich), Anchorage Museum (Alaska) and the Shanghai Biennale. She is part of the curatorial team of Momenta Biennale 2021 in Montréal. Soin is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and was the recipient of the Frieze Artist Award 2019.

Interview with the artist:
Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I'm from India. Moving image and performative environments are for me an expansion of the world of text. I was restless with how poems move across a page, and began exploring landscape, body and technologies as other mediums to hold poetry, and carry them across species and worlds.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?
This piece was made on one of the first days of lockdown in Delhi, before the deep sense of catastrophe had fully set in but after the nostalgia for contact was already established. We were tracing time, thinking through the cycles of weather, sickness and health and nations and citizens. We were thinking of circles, and their importance in rituals. How the partially open circle leaves a potential for change, for the entry of something or someone new. Waiting for our phantom friends, human and non-human, to join us in life's usual dramas. The drone footage represents the interscalar nature of these ruminations.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, we're writing a bird opera in the form of an epic poem and a score for woodwind instruments inspired by the Arctic Tern, which makes the longest migration in the history of all species, thinking of wings, lightness, surveillance, transnationalism, cosmism. I'm also writing an Augmented Reality expeditionary performance about Mount Meru, the mythical centre of the universe.