Subcontinentment is a manifesto that stems from my fieldwork in the polar circles, where I was confronted with my alienness as a brown body in a landscape commonly used for outer-space simulation experiments. As part of a series of fictional ice archives, south asian futurism, renamed subcontinentment, anti-chronicles the geopoetic links between the poles and the subcontinent.
In transforming the text into a soundscape, David and I began finding correspondences and intersections between my polar recordings and the hyper, denuded aural environment of Delhi under lockdown. Cawing crows, a static in the ether of the polyphonous city, intertwined with screeching skuas, lone reminders of life in the expansive nothingness of the “white” continent. The whirr of a fan points to the circulation of air, capital, contagion, compassion. The extra-terrestrial echoes of stones skimming on frozen lakes sound like firecrackers, blackening the air with their celebratory overzealousness. گھنگرو, ghungroos, the metallic ankle bells of the temple-dancer-by-day, sex-worker-by-night, or ice in a frozen river. The pressure of stretching the word, “rest” builds, it is released as if sounds of government-mandated clangings of pots and pans could avert a pandemic, substitute a virus for a communal agenda. Rhizomatic root structures of melting, frozen lilypads. Lilypads that open at dawn and close at dusk just like the Na’at, poetry sung in praise of Allah, heard in the depths of a tomb.
These audio soundscapes are pieces from Himali’s recently published almanac, we are opposite like that, available to order here.