My Crops are Dying But My Body Persists: Bridget Moser
by Natasha Chaykowski
“It’s one thing to panic about uncertain futures.”
The actual weight of the world is 13,170,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000 pounds and that is a load that an average human being can’t really comprehend. (As if there is such a thing as an average human being, or an average anything right now, or ever.) But what we can know is that the gravitational impact of hypothetically holding such a weight on one’s own shoulders would surely necessitate some serious physical and non-physical therapy. And while of late there is certainly an accumulation of things to be disoriented and weighed down by, I have nonetheless continued to send emails, which I have begun to uniformly sign with a resigned “Stay safe and love your loved ones and yourself.” It’s better than “I hope this note finds you well” but a far cry from “Yours, in this ongoing collective effort to dismantle a system of incomprehensible violence.”
Sometimes and especially these days, when I watch something made by Bridget Moser, I say aloud to myself: what is she doing and why does it make me feel like this? I mean: when I encounter her hands manipulating a set of rose-coloured rubber lips, and soft, shifting, droning tones play in the background, the sonic equivalent of the way a horizon slides imperceptibly from bright yellow and blue to brilliant orange and purple, a slide we take for granted because some- times it’s normal, and those lips speak a script in a disembodied, robotized voice (probably the artist’s?) and say things like “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “It’s just a feeling I’d like to have” and “I am more than a purposeless body waiting for eventual death”—when I encounter this, why do I want to sob, to unleash a kind of cosmic scream that can’t be perceived as a sound wave, to be suspended in a dark ether of peace, eyes closed, surrounded by specks of light? I don’t really have an answer. But a friend once told me that Bridget is like a prophet of our generation, and I believe him. I guess it doesn’t really matter why cooked spaghetti hanging out of a vase and being braided as Enya’s “Storms in Africa” (1988) plays makes me feel this way, but it feels important that it makes me feel. “I don’t know what I’m feeling but I’m feeling something,” Bridget says.
I’m not going to refer to Bridget by her last name here, because it seems disingenuous. If you’re reading this, you probably know her or at least know of her work. And now, the rules we’ve abided by seem to hold little authority. You could stop reading this right now and instead go watch Bridget’s video online (confirmation, perhaps, that both galleries and art reviews were never really necessary, like so much else), as the Remai Modern didn’t open Bridget’s show because of this pandemic. Such an erosion of orthodoxy feels to me like the sensation of teeth shifting back, yearning for the places they belong, their rightful crooked spots, gnarled before they endured a decade of braces. I’m not sure why, but throughout Bridget’s new video there are acrylic resin teeth strewn about, usually in the company of fake nails with a French manicure and light-pink earplugs, sometimes as part of a still life, sometimes being poured out of a white dolomite conch shell. These piles of parts are for me an ethereal reminder that parts of ourselves will one day be strewn about—broadcast minerals accruing in a river basin or muscle matter and body fat enriching the soil—and that it is inaccurate to think of the calcium that constitutes our bones as belonging to us.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I don’t know why I’m still writing emails, but I think maybe Bridget is always speculating about such things. The lips move and they narrate my recent days: “I take showers just to pass the time”; “When I’m this lonely, I start getting intimate with all the furniture in the house.” She made this work months ago. If a prophet is a kind of “inspired teacher,” an intermediary between us and the vast expanse of the sublime unknown, that dark ether of peace that we don’t know anything about and that we don’t have a word for, but that I call magic, then maybe Bridget really is like a prophet. “We’re living on this meaningless island, and I think it’s getting sick. Maybe it’s already very unwell,” she says. Yes, all of our crops are dying. Yet we persist. Now the task is to ensure that this persistence isn’t in vain, because one day we will not carry the weight of the world but instead be among the many parts that constitute it. Actually, of course, we already are.