Q&A Quarantine and Art: “A Small Escape for Others”

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Here is the latest Q&A conversation between Marsha Pearce and Nadia Huggins. It is part of the series Q&A Quarantine and Art [also see previous post Q&A Quarantine and Art.] Here are excerpts of the conversation. For full interview and photos of Huggins’s work, go to Q&A: “A Small Escape for Others.”

Marsha Pearce: How are you, Nadia? What are things like, on the ground, in St. Vincent?

Nadia Huggins: It’s been a very up-and-down experience, but at the moment I feel as though I’m getting to a place of acceptance and I’m trying my best to continue dredging out what I can from this period of solitude to sustain my practice.

St. Vincent has been handling the situation fairly casually compared to some of the other islands. The government has put a few things in place to curb the importation of cases. However, as far as business goes, people have been proceeding as normal. With that being said, some major private businesses have tried their best to implement systems to reduce contact and spread. Most of the people who have kept informed throughout the pandemic are trying to do the best they can, but I think people generally feel it’s hard to sustain the right safety practices with an invisible threat.

You mentioned sustaining your practice. I’d like to talk about your recent work. A couple of your Instagram posts in March are of photographs of the human body submerged in water – close-ups of skin that render the form ambiguous. The images read as perhaps both a hand, a knuckle, and a hill, the crest of a cliff, a valley. What is equally striking is the accompanying caption: “Distance is measured by the longing between two places.” I am interested in these images and your caption, especially in this time when distance can be lifesaving and we are thinking in terms of 6ft of separation. What can you tell me about the photographs and the notion of measuring distance, particularly during this pandemic?

I’ve spent some time observing the headlands of islands from the perspective of being in the sea, either from a boat or swimming. I’ve always been moving between two places in one way or another – I’m either moving between Trinidad and St Vincent, or the Grenadine islands and St Vincent – so I have been trying to make sense of the relevance of that space between those two points or islands. I have been thinking a bit about the concept of powers of 10 and how to explore this idea visually in the context of photography. I am referring to the mathematical concept, but I think the Powers of 10 video illustrates the idea really well. I’ve been thinking about how to approach my work in a similar way – especially in relation to the body, the landscape and the natural elements within it. How do all of these things look up close? And, how are they perceived from afar?

I’ve always been interested in using the body as a metaphor for the topography of the island landscape, and as a result, started experimenting with macro shots of my hands underwater. It was through this I was able to figure out simple gestures using my hands to mimic the land. I find the details of the body up close fascinating and there are so many ways this is seen mirrored on a larger scale in the landscape. The middle image represents the hull of a boat as seen from below the surface. Again, I’m trying to use the body as a metaphor to show a relationship between the objects we encounter in everyday life and finding ways to give them new life through a mimicking of the body. These are images I have been exploring and thinking about for a while, however, in relation to the pandemic, it gives old images a new context. When two places (or the body) are so far apart from each other, what is the vessel that we use to connect ourselves to each other? [. . .]

For full conversation, visit http://marshapearce.com/qanda/a-small-escape-for-others/

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