004. how to listen to your dreams and an introduction to manifestation
+ an interview with Kalanjay Dhir and our monthly 'being well' round up
Kalanjay Dhir makes work that draws on narratives in popular culture, sci-fi and spiritual texts, exploring mythological and speculative technologies through sculpture, video and internet objects. Kal is based on unceded Darug Land (Sydney aka the 2K) and enjoys thinking about what the world would look like if we built things with a secular devotion.
Hi Kal, are you keeping well?
Hi Prinita / Studio Ānanda.
I am keeping well - what a blessing it is to answer with such a simple feeling. I felt the beginnings of burning out this week and am still tired, as many are, but feel very held by those around me.
I had quite an unusual and semi-traumatic dream last night but the flip side of it was the beauty in its detail and lucidness. I won't go into details of it but I woke up in the dream in a messily hopeful, familiar but foreign future. When I 'properly' awoke, shaken at 6am, I went outside to urinate and rubbed my eyes to a new world forcefully erupting via tradies and heavy machinery in Parramatta. In my briefs I relieved myself behind the major light rail construction at the back of my house.
I emptied my mind onto a Google Doc that ended up being 1500 words before starting my day with my grandparents and family. I called a loved one on the walk to Pari. So I have been keeping very well thanks to the care of others :)
Describe your energy today in three words
What does developing a slow practice of art making mean to you?
Hmmm, I'm still trying to appreciate this rhythm I think. My friends often tell me to slow down, reflecting on the value of this within their lives - taking time to 'smell the roses'.
Along with those around me, I think time has found new material meanings this year. For me it means accepting things as unfinished or continuous works of progress to be tended to throughout this lifetime.
What does 'being well' during a revolution look like to you?
I struggled to answer this. Being a settler-migrant in so-called Australia, I think I grew up without properly understanding that there has been a resistance, revolution or war, on this land for many lifetimes before my own.
I don't know if it is 'being well', but for me it has enforced my hyper-local focus. It means focusing on those around me, watering others along with myself. Deflating my own ego and identity within the swell of people around me, and learning to ask for help and give help without being asked. Communism is a loaded word with violent and complicated histories for many South-East Asians, but I think, what it can suggest as a political, economic and ideological position, is a way of relating to each other.
Thinking of myself as a unit within a larger ecology of histories, not as a cog in a machine, but as active within the area, leaning on others and letting others lean on me. So I've gotta get strong! My grandfather always told me, 'health is wealth' and I think wealth is not wealth unless is it shared and enjoyed indiscriminately.
It makes me think of what me and my partner have been discussing recently: what is the difference between compassion and empathy?
Neoliberal constructs of productivity make us believe that rest is not a form of abundant production. At Studio Ānanda, we firmly believe in moving past the rest/non rest binary with our work. Rest as a radical notion that brings forth intentional practices and rejects structures of scarcity. If and how does your practice navigate this?
Moving past the rest/non rest binary is a very beautiful thought. I think you've found words for an approach I have inherited from my family.
I enjoy what I do, rest and work are simultaneous for me. There is immense pleasure in both as I'm surrounded by loving people in all spheres and I am privileged to be supported in all I do.
Making work and resting is both social and intimate for me. I find rest and solace in small talk and similarly so in the quiet chaos of building something new.
I once wrote a song called Lazy and my mama loves it. She sings it while teasing me when I cannot get off my phone on the sofa. There is something interesting in the 'bludger' trope - enjoying time as it rolls through us. Passing the time might be seen as frivolous but so is working!
Your creative work inspires new forms of being and seeing and understandings of the world. How important is it to foster radical imaginations of different futures?
This is very generous of you and I am grateful for my work to be read in this way. I am a big sci-fi fanboy. My dear friend Mei told me to read Octavia Butler a few years ago and this year I re-read Lilith's Brood. It completely reconfigured my understanding of reproduction, social relations, relationship to our mothership planet, gender, masculinity and maybe... humanness or nonhumanity.
Earl Sweatshirt, one of my favourite artists whose growth I feel reflects in some way my own and many men around me, tweeted on the first of June "the role of fantasy in liberation is huge. we are tasked with creating something that we cant really see. building the plane while its flying".
My position as the son of aspirational migrants in the southern hemisphere is very different to black artists in the states, but there is a duty I think I can't shy away from. I love stories and building new worlds, none of which are designed to be implemented. But I believe that if there is no language or image for something then it will never exist. It doesn't need to be a blueprint, it just needs to be outside of our current world to reconfigure what we construct as true.
I made a work recently in which I swum in the now heavily polluted but ancient Parramatta River. My hope was to conversate with the river through my own vessel of water. I won't be so arrogant as to say they talked to me, but it was a sincere moment of immersion.
Our cultures are built around lifetimes of fantasy or, as I see it, speculative storytelling. It is time for our generation and youngers below us to write our own worlds. It will be messy and imperfect as we try to detach and not recreate structures but I have such hope in the youngers' imagination with the guidance of compassionate elders.
A round up of things that are keeping us well at Studio Ānanda:
Palappam with coconut milk + jaggery
Miso soup with spinach and tofu
Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell
Roasting lots of squash and brussel sprouts
New comfort snack is mint chocolate Pocky from Hong Kong Supermarket
Shifting The Silence by Etel Adnan
Alf Leila We Leila by Umm Kulthum
The Vow on HBO
Sweet potatoes roasted with paprika and salt
Listen to our full playlist here!