Himali Singh Soin

Arts Practice
2018-2019

Grant Period: One year and six months

Himali Singh Soin finished her MA in English Literature from The Bread Loaf School Of English, USA in 2018 and MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She has a BA in Theatre and English from Middlebury College, USA and practices visual arts, performance and writing since 2013. Her recent works have been shown at Khoj in New Delhi, Kadist in San Francisco, the Dhaka Art Summit, Abrons Art Centre in NYC, Whitechapel Art Night in London, OCA in Norway, Fabrika in Moscow, A Tale of a Tub in Rotterdam, Bucharest Art Week, and Meet Factory in Prague, among others. Her recent publications include a manifesto for the 2017 Serpentine Marathon book and regular columns for the Artforum magazine. She has contributed to Frieze, VICE, National Geographic Traveler, CNN Travel, ArtSlant, The Flaneur, The Outdoor Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, Caravan, Vogue and many others.

Himali often uses metaphors from astronomy and natural sciences to create fictional cosmologies of interferences, entanglements, alienation, distance and intimacy in her work. She attempts to think through ecological loss, loss of home, and the radical shelters love and care has to offer. According to Himali, her work “critiques capitalist influences on ecology, digital influences on love and colonial influences on map-making”. Himali’s current project under this grant titled, We Are Opposite Like That, is an attempt to write a series of fictional mythologies from the perspective of Ice - a non-human entity that has witnessed epochal shifts. She will write a collection of prose poetry based on her experiences during the time she spent in the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

Himali’s father was one of the first Indian explorers to the North Pole, so her journey began from a deeply personal connection. Encompassing issues of the Global South, and the politics of ecology and language, the project will present Ice as an agent of resistance against European colonialism and techno-capitalist aspirations towards large-scale extraction of natural resources from the poles. The colonial powers arrived quite late at the Polar Regions and no pre-existing myths and legends are known from the areas. The fictional mythologies will draw heavily from contemporary conspiracy theories, UFO sightings, diagrams of aurora borealis and poems where ice is an agent of decolonisation and resistance. They will also highlight its vulnerability to the imminent climate catastrophe.

The series will be published as a book and will be presented along with a performance based on the theme. The book will have chapters on the peculiar history of Indians in the Arctic, South Asian Futurism, recent UFO and alien sightings on both poles through Google Earth satellite imagery and early conceptions of tropicality in the tundra. The project aims to challenge conventions by literally going to the edges of the planet as they melt, and questions the idea of the frontier itself. In rethinking the boundaries of mythology and sci-fi the book attempts to push the boundaries of literature as well. In its evocative performance form, it tries to bring the literary and the performative together, while establishing connections between geo-politics, ecology, language, colonialism, corporate greed and the fight against it.

The outcome of the project will be a book comprising text and images and a series of performances. Copy of the manuscript, publication excerpts and audio-video documentation of the performances will be deposited as deliverables. Information and material from performance/tour schedule will be continuously updated on a website. IFA will support a part of the expenses of the project. She will raise the rest of the funds from other sources. The timeline seems realistic and plausible given the scope of the project.