Emplace

7.4 / Moving Target

Emplace

By Mg Roberts, Cheryl Patrice Derricotte April 5, 2016

An image is always a means of document. An archive gives witness to objects and represents “truthful” and “objective” subjectivities. Images serve as documentation, a record, proof—a trace of emplacement. Can an image reveal the hidden or difficult to see, record doings, render humans as anthropological subjects contained in snapshots as evidence to be viewed through a scientific lens, its historical tendons put into position?

I met Cheryl Derricotte at a Small Press Traffic event featuring Claudia Rankine and Karen Green in San Francisco last December. Prior to this project with Art Practical I had thought about Cheryl, and her then forthcoming exhibition Ghost/Ships at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), often referring back to my notes from that evening’s conversation:

race, the image, representations of body, what’s veiled, cargo, wind patterns, penetration, to live under the tyranny of title, to prove you are human, toward audience

As I was thinking about this collaboration, I was also thinking about place. In particular I was thinking about Marthe Reed and Christine Leclerc’s “Place-relation Ecopoetics: A Collective Glossary” and what it means to be emplaced in/through text and image, “of poetry as a form of inhabitance.”1 From here I began to write toward the emplacing of bearing, as in the quality or state of being import, a notation. Much like the way the straightest degree begins to be the opposite, the other and everything in declination, negative or west of relative to one’s surroundings.2

What I find most compelling about Derricotte’s works are their acts of repetition. Derricotte uses both altered representations that occur in each monotype and print and encased glass to speak to the ways history rarely knows and how easily it undergoes subtle manipulations. Glass is “translucent and seemingly fragile, yet [is] hearty enough to survive the passage of time between civilizations.3 In effect, her work repeats, emplacing the act of documentation through situating a context by way of the archive.

Indeed, a single bird’s tiny shift can move the entire flock to create an accident of direction or wingfall right into the space between us and ocean.4 I wanted to collaborate with Derricotte to index this intuition. The result is my poem entitled “Bearing” and her 10-by-13-inch monotype entitled Bear Road (2016), constructed using two colors of ink on Fabriano paper to symbolize “life’s journey and the inner compass guiding us all.”5 


Cheryl Derricotte, Bear Road, 2016; monotype using etching ink on Fabriano paper, 10 x 13 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the British Library. Photo: Nye' Lyn Tho (Click to enlarge)

Bearing :: as in the quality or state of being import, a notation. A single bird begin geographic fact. The straightest degree begin to be opposite other and everything in declination, negative or west of relative to one’s surroundings. A single bird’s tiny shift can move the entire flock, an accident of direction or wingfall fall left and right into the space between us and ocean. Index intuition. Weather/whether, where do the bird end and sky begin? A projection of words between direction between wing and rotating parts, at once open and precise—a biological compass. Words enter forward and shift along lines of magnetic force pushing out a sequence of syllables before the gesture of flight weights position.

Notes

  1.  Linda Russo, " Place-relation ecopoetics: A collective glossary," Jacket2http://jacket2.org/commentary/place-relation-ecopoetics-collective-glossary.
  2. Excerpted lines from Roberts’ poem entitled "Bearing."
  3. Cheryl Derricotte, artist statement. http://cherylderricotte.com/artist-statement/
  4. Cheryl Derricotte in personal communication with the author, March 24, 2016.
  5. Excerpted lines from Roberts’ poem entitled "Bearing."

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