NITHYA IYER


Lisbon, Portugal / Researcher, Writer & Artist

Self-isolation

Nithya is a researcher and interdisciplinary artist currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work attempts phenomenological experiments through text, performance, video and installation.



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The air is warm but even. It is a steady weight around me, an equalising balance on the soil hued plains. The sweat on my brow neither pours nor beads. It is simply there in semi-static formation, an obscured adhesive sheen between my darkening face and the sediment spray it wears. The same as that perpetually suspended in the low-lying atmosphere of the desert. I am aloft one of several thousand, perched on the still back of the cement mass: an architecture resembling thickened palettes or cargo containers, each one gargantuan and impossible, refined and repetitious in detail of length, edge, fastening. They are laid one after the other in precise rectangular compositions, at least five rows that I can see but countless more beyond my periphery. The movement of symmetry leads my vision toward an amber sun setting unbrilliantly, leftward in sky, meek against the heavy sepia tones of the deadened landscape that expands beyond the structures. I scale each structure slowly and methodically. I am engaged in some measurement, some archiving of an imperceptible detail that I cannot recall from waking life. I am studying them like fossils, chipping away at a task that implies decades of earnest attention. I have visited this geographically forlorn location for this purpose. For this seemingly impossible task that will age me, that will beg of me a lifetime of dedication, and that simultaneously presents itself as vital, the only necessary thing one ought to do.

It is when I meet the architect that I realise the structures are still being made. He is gruff and elementary, he has no desire to engage with me and swats me away as though I were a frivolous being amidst his racks of concrete scaffolding. His brow remains earthbound, creasing toward an invisible drishti as though there were things before him constantly of worry and concern, requiring serious attention; requiring the work. He calls them sculptures. They are his sculptures and he is laying them piece by piece. This assembling of concrete perfection from a warehouse in the desert, surrounded by landscape so sparse its scant birds eye delineations reflect its nothingness exactly. It is an art work, a geometric messaging upon the land that no one will see, made by a man that will never stop working, immersed in calculations that I must examine, starting a task that I will never finish.

(7/4/2020)