Site-Writing

Homekeeping (2020)
  • Honor Vincent | London

  • Homekeeping
  • Homekeeping (2020)
  • Honor Vincent | London
  • The flat is coming to dawn. The wall, whose voices slipped back to a whisper in the cold hours, warms itself to a hum, faltering a little as it wakes like the tuning of a radio. The bookshelves grow amber and the chest of drawers picks up its dusty scent. Essences arrange themselves.


    Homekeeping is a text where quiet encounters within the home become conductors for discussions on sickness, vegetal time, nonhuman connection, care, language, and art making. Drawing on ideas of autofiction and ‘autotheory’ (Preciado, 2008), in Homekeeping I played with a short story format and a semi-fictional voice to negotiate the relationship between self and habitat. I was drawn by the ways in which the self becomes entangled in networks of the non-human environment. The initial external site of inquiry, which appears only briefly in the text as ‘scrap of land behind the building’, itself became ensnared, disintegrating into the entangled networks of language, body, plant, and ‘thing’. In this respect the work is indebted to the entanglements around ‘what is discourse?’ and ‘what is the material world?’ presented by new materialism (Barad, Braidotti, Grosz, Bennett, Kirby, DeLanda). Here, in Homekeeping, the embodied and the semiotic co-constitute each other. 

    Homekeeping moves around the idea of breath. The narrative is a process of tuning into the ‘anima,’ the breath, soul or life, of the protagonist’s surroundings: listening to what animates the nonhuman world. Yet this is never a straightforward, one-way movement from self to surroundings, or a simple loss of ego. The location of breath in the text is ever changing and overlapping. The ‘life’ of the protagonist becomes multiple, (broken down and challenged by diabetes, food, imagination) and likewise the ‘breath’ of the surroundings that she begins to tune into (the walls, the soil) reveals itself to be informed and changed by her own. The process of making itself, enacted within the text in a series of ekphrastic ‘experiments,’ also produces its own ‘anima’, playing into this inter-connected field of breath and complicating the notion of artistic agency.


    Biography

    Honor Vincent is a writer and student midwife based in London. She has a BA in English literature from the University of Oxford and has completed an MA in Architectural History at the Bartlett, University College London, where she was introduced to site-writing through the Critical Spatial Practice: Site-Writing module. Her work often negotiates the porous relationship between self and habitat. It speaks also to her personal experiences of illness and care, thinking through the complicated relationships between thought and the body. Her writing practice has been nourished by her interdisciplinary background, and acts as a way in which to think through and enfold ways of thinking and being. Honor hopes that this practice will continue to support her thinking as she begins training as a midwife at Kings College London in September 2021.


    Practices

    This piece was written as part of the Critical Spatial Practice: Site-Writing module, and that mode of thinking and making became and continues to be instrumental to my writing practice. For me, it offered a playfulness to hold disparate strands of thought and observation in conversation. Considering the interconnectedness of my embodied experience and the histories and physicality of the spaces I live in has become a key focus to my writing. For me, homing in on language, here through etymology, became a mode to offer up these connections while still allowing space for their ambiguities.


    Keywords
    Plant, non-human, body, home, sewing, language

    References

    Jane Bennet, Vibrant Matter, (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2010).

    Maggie Nelson, Bluets, (Seattle: Wave Books, 2009).

    Zoe Leonard, Strange Fruits, (1992-97), made in United States, North and Central America https://philamuseum.org/collection/object/92277 


    Other projects
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  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
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