Himali Singh Soin: The Third Pole

Himali Singh Soin: The Third Pole

Himali Singh Soin: The Third Pole – Curated by Soledad Gutiérrez Rodríguez
25 October 2022 – 29 January 2023
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

TBA21 presents The Third Pole, a major exhibition of the New Delhi-born artist Himali Singh Soin, in collaboration with David Soin Tappeser: their first institutional exhibition in Spain. Staged in Madrid’s Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, the exhibition encompasses two bodies of work: we are opposite like that (2017 – ongoing), set in the North and South Poles, and As Grand As What (2021) set in the Indian Himalayas and the foot of Mount Vesuvius, that conjure fictional mythologies for these fragile places.

Himali Singh Soin: The Third Pole

The Third Pole is rooted in the space between art and science, manifesting a cosmology in which everything is sentient: traversing a colonial, prejudiced past while dreaming up heterotopic futures in which love attunes us to the catastrophe of the present moment. Himali Singh Soin works across text, performance and moving image inspired by the natural environment to explore the nature of identity, and the entanglements between human and non-human life.

David Soin Tappeser’s rhythmic sensibilities inform his compositions for analogue instruments, sounding the landscape. The resulting geological-human scales of temporality are layered with cultural references and protest movements, bringing to fore questions of environmental justice and the transcendental power of listening as an act of togetherness.

Curated by TBA21’s Soledad Gutiérrez Rodríguez, the exhibition promises to demonstrate the breadth of the artist’s collaborative practice. This exhibition follows previous collaborations between Himali, David and TBA21, which saw them produce new works for st_age, TBA21’s online platform.

we are opposite like that (2017 – ) is an ongoing series of interdisciplinary works – comprising video, performance, textile, poetry and music – from material gathered during Himali’s fieldwork in the uninhabited parts of the Arctic and Antarctic circles. It comprises mythologies for the poles, told from the non-human perspective of an elder that has witnessed deep time: the ice. Ice, a melting fossil, is running out of time. The series fuses a variety of concerns: the ways in which we know the world, the slippery spaces between solidity and spirit, the potential of error, postcolonial preconceptions, a looming climate crisis and the interdependence of the natural and the occult.

Drawing on those entanglements, the quest continues from the farthest reaches of the earth to Himali’s namesake and the third pole of the world, the Himalayas. There, she encounters an emergent place where the voices of feminine deities and the physical and symbolic qualities of the natural elements coexist, calling for a transnational spirituality. As Grand as What (2021) by Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser) proposes a series of five rituals conducted by earth spirits to reactivate and heal the energy centres of the earth, post-catastrophe, with the tools of rhythm and love poetry.

The main artery of the story is a search for the lost bla, a subtle life force that runs through the world. Bla, a term borrowed from Tibetan medicine, but one which translates into prana, or qi, ruh or mana across cultures, has lost itself amid the ecological crisis of the present moment. This is expressed both in the weary body and the parched earth.

A drummer calls upon li, a spirit manifestation of the human and non-human consciousness, to conduct a series of remedial rituals, to recall bla into our bodies and into the planet. The music in As Grand as What, written for percussion, accordion and clarinet emanates from the thin places connecting magic and religion, ‘folk’ and ‘high’ culture, periphery and center. The fast-paced rhythm references the Tarantella, a music originally conceived for women afflicted with illness (or perceived madness) to release their trauma through dance. We seek to reconnect to the anima of the earth, and in doing so with the resonance of sound and the force of the word love, heal ourselves.

Artist Himali Singh Soin comments: “The Third Pole is the breakdown of the binary, pitting ideas of the North and South not against each other, but with another, a marker of confluences that extend laterally, and diverge elsewhere. The third pole–love, distance, infinity, intuition–is evident in both geological and cultural history, as well as the artistic process.

We invite you into a choose-your-own-adventure so that you are not simply witness to the art, but the art begins to look back at you. We have chosen to utilize our resources to make the show as ecological as possible, with toxin-absorbing clay walls and jute floors. We work towards benefiting the communities from where these pieces arose. The exhibition is made up of a togetherness of voices, human and nonhuman alike. We offer you a sacred history of mountains and volcanoes, and hope that what you carry back is that etheric cord that holds you as the many slippery plates move below us.”

Exhibition curator, Soledad Gutiérrez Rodríguez, says: “In this exhibition Himali Singh Soins shares more than five years of thorough research that encompases a personal journey from the Poles to the Himalaya. This process is presented as an invitation to explore and engage with alternative forms of knowledge. For me, it works as a radical proposition to change the way we inhabit the world we live in, a radical transformation guided by the potential of love as a tool to sense the universe.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by two sets of performances by Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser coinciding with the opening of the show on 24 October, 2022 and its finissage on 29 January, 2023.

©2022 Himali Singh Soin