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'News From Nowhere' by Emily Jones at Cordova, Vienna

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The termite mound is collectively built. The termites return to their hive after feeding with their intestines full of grass and wood; their excrement is then assembled, in a joint effort with the other termites, to make the basis of their living structure. Once the feces has been processed and chewed and put into place the termites seed the walls with a fungus that grows and connects the segments, filling the gaps and adhering the sections together like a mortar between bricks. The termites’ process of consumption is directly proportional to the process of construction thus the mound is an inhabitable embodiment of a portion of the survival cycle and functions for the termites as both process and form.

After fertilization, a pregnant mother’s body similarly becomes both a home and source of life. The body is the form through which the baby is nourished and sustained. The body, the womb, the breasts, the cervix adapt and expand in order firstly to accommodate and feed during pregnancy and then secondly to give birth and sustain life afterwards. All of the actions of consumption and recovery that were once solely owned by the mother – eating, sleeping, drinking etc. – now become, at least partially, in service of something(one) else: the unborn and born child and the body as home and provider. The terms that were individual become plural.


As resilient and condensed as the mound is, these structures are extremely susceptible to rain and can – during a heavy downpour – be destroyed within minutes. Paradoxically the termites’ vitality and the stability of the mound's construction are also dependent on the same rain.

Once the child is born, the mother’s process of decision-making and her mobility and sense of autonomy, all of which were once,, like her consumption, ostensibly individual endeavors, become shared. Forever changed, now no longer I but we; together they begin the process of dependency and (mutual) negotiation. The child demands an insatiable amount of the mother in order for it to constitute itself. The mother must come to terms with an absolution of a sense of herself in service of the establishment of someone else.


News From Nowhere is a built environment that addresses this paradoxical condition, and the struggle between making and undoing. Jones delimits this site through a triangulation of: a declarative written word ‘Yalancılar’ (Turkish for liars) registered legible from the outside balcony, an elongated undulating sandcastle structure, and the remnants of upheaval, thrown stones and smashed tomatoes. Jones materially and conceptually references both the construction of the termite mound and the process of mothering; the former as a stand in for the city and the universally experienced process of living together, and the later an acutely personally process, identifiable to some (mothers) first hand and others only by proxy. This diorama operates through a shift in scale, and the room holds the citadel and (like and the mound or the womb) it expands, develops and swells and is put in direct contact with the violence of upheaval (the rain the destruction of self). The work advocates for a utopic stability born out of agitation and instability; the moment when the space is dismantled and pulled open wide enough allow what we want to have happen, to happen.

Some o f the towers will need to be rebuilt at times. Giant Sequoias require heat from fire to regenerate.

13.12.16 — 28.1.17

Photo by Georg Petermichl


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