We’re talking about silence in this issue—the various ways in which it is felt, embodied, mobilized, and politicized. Your work mentions hesitation as a generative form of affect. Hesitation and silence are so often intertwined.

Can you speak to how hesitation lives in your practice?

What does it mean to you?
My interest in hesitation as a form of affect comes from my exploration and use of phenomenology, and specifically Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s approach to phenomenology, within my art practice. In his take on the study of lived experience, Merleau-Ponty is particularly interested in the notion of sedimentation, which speaks to the way in which particular forms of perception become naturalised. Contemporary feminist philosphers such as Alia Al-Saji and Helen Ngo have taken on this line of thinking and deepened it in innovative ways that trouble the naturalized perception of race. For them, creating space for hesitation in how we understand and perceive race creates an interstice, an opportunity to trouble the process of racialization altogether, to re-think race and how we understand it.

The first piece of the installation,  “I want you to know that I am hiding something from you” was conceived as a game of hide-and-seek that the audience was unwittingly brought into...

I’ve been interested in fostering hesitation in my practice, creating works that aim to create and play on moments of hesitation. A prime example is my two-part 2019 installation “I want you to know that I am hiding something from you / since what I might be is uncontainable”. The first piece of the installation was conceived of as a game of hide-and-seek that the audience was unwittingly brought into—invited to find a representation of me that was hidden in the room.

The work played on the assumption that the audience would navigate the room in a number of different ways and that the varying levels of involvement would yield different experiences. One option was for an audience member to enter, become confused and bored by the installation and leave. The other would be for the audience member to be equally confused but attempt to better understand the work by walking up close to the red banners on the wall and spending more time in the space, gauging how best to experience it. The final option would be to come in, hesitate, spend time in the space, and finally step onto the podium—which was fashioned after a slave auction block—and look through the red plexiglas at the banner. This action would enable them to see hidden images that could only be viewed from that particular position in the space. Hesitation is present in all three options, but it is only through sitting with it, pushing past it and engaging with the work that one is truly able to experience the installation.