Polyphony: Initiation and Descent to the Knowing

noun: polyphony


'the style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.'

(Oxford Dictionary)


Click 'PLAY' to hear soundscape for 'polyphony' at Artfully Queer

My current creative research involves the creation of artworks as lived-experience experiments to define the stages of a diverse storytelling or meaning making system known as the 'Tune-in' model (diag.)

The 'Tune-in' model offers an alternative to the dominant patriarchal storytelling model which is based on Campbell's theory of the Hero's journey, and relies on conflict, conquest and crime to progress stories. The 'Tune-in' model instead focuses on symbiosis, discovery and conscious connection - and is specifically designed to address experiences of people who are considered 'Abject' (Kristeva) within Campbell's binary model. 'Abject' people includes women, people of colour, people with ability challenges, and Queer and Neurodiverse folx. The 'Tune-in' model is a diverse update of Murdock's 'Heroine's Journey' model (1990), where each non-linear stage charts a journey to conscious self-awareness within the patriarchal belief system.


The 'Polyphony' artwork created for the Artfully Queer exhibition explores the 'Initiation and Descent to the Knowing' stage. This stage follows the 'Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity' stage - where protagonists experience a cognitive dissonance to success within the patriarchal system. They realise the goals they have spent so much of their lives to achieve - are not their goals - but expectations imposed upon them by a patriarchal society. This experience is often referred to as 'burn-out'.


The 'Initiation and Descent to the Knowing' stage is about people discovering who they are and what they want. This 'Knowing' involves emotionally connecting to parts of themselves they were forced to deny since the first stage - the 'Separation from the Authentic Self' - which typically occurs in childhood. After experiencing the 'Spiritual Aridity' stage, people often believe they may be dead inside and if they were to look within, they would discover either a void or the 'evil' Abject patriarchal self.


My own 'Initiation and Descent to the Knowing' is ongoing with many discoveries occurring through this artwork. My process involves listening, feeling and connecting to my repressed parts. As a late-out neurodiverse, non-binary lesbian of colour, I have an uncomfortable relationship with my genitals, the colour of my skin and the way my mind works because none of these attributes conform to patriarchal values. 


'Polyphony' is an audio/video/photographic artwork projected onto the old wooden floor in the gallery, and because of this combination - the artwork only reveals the parts you look at directly.  The artwork is fashioned from photos of stunning living trees and fungi - who move to water-like ripples - within the dead wood of the floor - a woody-watery portal or invitation to another way of being. The soundtrack is a polyphony, combining hypnotic, womb-like heartbeats and me humming parts of the well known song 'Mbube' or 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' (Solomon Popoli Linda, 1939.) The  botanicals and fungi are from the Styx Valley and were introduced to me by Steve from The Tree Projects.


'Polyphony' is a metaphorical exploration of what my vulva means to me beyond the patriarchy. After all these years I am finally listening to my vulva and it is revealing itself to me as a collection of colourful diverse forms in the beautiful wooden floors of the Long Gallery at Salamanca Arts Centre.


What does it mean to go within?
To feel?
To listen to all of me?
To all the people that live inside of me?
Past, present, future - squishy time - all of it, all at once, everyday - in me?
7 year old me, 16 me, 20s me, 50s me!
Daughter, son, Theyby me
Sibling, nibbling me
Peppery, NeuroSpicy me
It's all me, me, me!
I'm driving a bus full of very interesting me's
binary me, queer me, conscious me
Me at work, Me at love
Sex-sual me, un-lovable me
the me I wished never existed
The ugly, the beautiful, the brave, the asshole
Scarred, scary, scared, overprotective me
The me in my head that tells me I'm shit because they love me
The me I am - or was - or wasn't - for them to love me
The me I am - to love myself - sees me - sees all - of me - together


Other stages have been explored in recent exhibitions at The Barn, Rosny Farm and Moonah Arts Centre.