Episode Notes
This second episode of the Climate Imaginaries podcast was recorded over zoom in October 2023. The three artists you hear speaking in the episode, Phoebe Osborne, Raoni Muzho, and Rajni Shah, had a long slow dialogue leading up to this conversation, creating a shared map (linked below) which could be with them as they spoke. Grief and loss were present in different forms throughout the process of meeting, postponing, and then recording this conversation, and there is a strong current of grief in relation to Palestine that flows through the episode.

This episode comes in two parts. We invite you to begin listening by engaging with a continuous sighing practice offered by Raoni Muzho Saleh, before listening to the full episode. However, we have included them as separate recordings so that you can choose when and how you listen. The conversation itself lasts about an hour, and embraces non-linearity. We invite you to let go of expectations, and allow yourself to slow into the listening.

Acknowledgments and credits
The sounds of fire in this episode were recorded at Mile Island on Morrison Lake, located near Bracebridge, Ontario, on the traditional lands of the Huron-Wendat of Wendake, the Anishinaabeg, and specifically the Ojibway/Chippewa peoples. This territory is covered by the Robinson-Huron Treaty No. 61.

Light waves heard in this episode are the sounds of the waters of Gichi-aazhoogami-gichigami (Lake Huron), recorded at Singing Sands on the west of the Saugeen Peninsula (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario). These are the traditional lands and waters of the Anishinaabeg, and specifically the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, and the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaty No. 72.

The recording of the ocean at the end of the episode was made at Reserva Eco-Arqueologica Punta Cometa (Punta Cometa Eco-archaological Reserve) of Mazunte, Oaxaca (Mexico), September 29 2022, 5pm. Also known as ‘el Cerro Sagrado’ (’sacred hill’), this landscape is situated on Zapotec lands and cared for by local community who have advanced initiatives to preserve it, registering it officially as an archaeological site in 2017.

All recordings were made by Fili 周 Gibbons with care and respect for the lands, waters, winds, trees, and creatures being recorded.

Shared map created by Phoebe, Rajni, and Raoni.
https://www.climateimaginariesatsea.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/phoebe-rajni-raoni-map.pdf

The book Trans Care mentioned by Phoebe at the end of the episode can be found here: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/trans-care

This podcast is part of the project Climate Imaginaries led by Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca, Sabine Niederer, and Patricia de Vries. With thank to Andy Dockett for web and technical assistance. Climate Imaginaries is part of the Art Route NWA-project ‘Bit by bit, or not at all’ financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and an Imagination Laboratory within the SPRONG project Imagination in Transitions. It is also made possible with the support of Centre of Expertise for Creative Innovation (CoECI) in Amsterdam.

Editing, mixing, sound design, and cello by Fili 周 Gibbons and Studio Apothicaire
Contributors: Raoni Muzho Saleh, Phoebe/Phoebus Osborne
Conversations hosted by Rajni Shah, and edited by Rajni Shah and Fili 周 Gibbons


Brief biographies

Fili 周 Gibbons (we/them/us) are a musician, sound designer, and audiovisual recordist working across a range of community and professional contexts to support plural voices, expressions, and sonic experiences. As well as leading community workshops they frequently work with other sound and video artists, drawing on listening, memory and intuition as guiding forces in collaborative making practices.
https://studio-apothicaire.com 

Phoebus Osborne is a multi-hyphenated thinker and practitioner in the fields of visual arts and dance, forever returning to the means by which artistic praxis can enact queer events. His work with performance, video, sound, and sculpture traces the errant paths of queer life, engaging urgent questions about queer modes of care.
https://www.phoebeosborne.com

Rajni Shah (they/them) is an artist whose practice is focused on listening and gathering as creative and political acts. Recent publications include the book and zines, Experiments in Listening, and the podcast series how to think (also made in collaboration with Laura and Fili). They are a researcher at the Academy for Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam.
https://www.rajnishah.com/ (archive)

Raoni/Muzho Saleh (1991 AFG/NL) is an artist with a bachelor degree in Literary and Cultural Analysis (UvA) and a bachelor degree in Choreography (SNDO). His work is influenced by fugitivity, a revolutionary movement that shapes his artistic vision. By dancing through the gender spectrum, Raoni has developed a unique movement practice that emphasises becoming “other” and choreographing a continuous state of incompleteness.
https://soundcloud.com/jajajaneeneenee/laraaji-raoni-muzho-saleh-radna-rumping-in-conversation 



TRANSCRIPTS

1. Continuous sighing practice (led by Raoni)

Sounds of water

Raoni
I’m inviting you. You most probably have your eyes already closed. If you don’t, please close your eyes and take a deep breath into your body.

With this deep breath we are welcoming ourselves into this here now. Like we were welcoming a friend into our home.

And breathe out. We are just leaning and resting and relaxing. Trusting in the surface that holds, supports our body in the here and now.

And then you’re, with your breath in, you’re bringing your attention towards exhaustion. A sense of being exhausted, being tired. But also maybe a sense of being rested, with the acceptance of being tired, the acceptance of being overstimulated. 

And we’re using our breathing out to just let out that exhaustion, that sense of being overstimulated. Accepting these states of being through a sigh. Through a continuous sigh as well. 

And bringing with your attention the energy towards the sigh, towards the shoulders, the head, lower back, wherever it feels pressured. Where it feels heavy. And letting out this heaviness through a sigh. That’s it.

Notice how each sigh is also reverberating through the surfaces that are holding your body. How perhaps the materials around you are sighing along with you. 

And just sigh. If a yawn comes out, welcome it. 

This last little moment of sighing. We’re bringing our sense, attention to a sense of gratitude that we are able to sigh together. That we are able to find acceptance and rest with these sighs. 

Deepening your sensation of your body through your breath. Deepening your sense of being present with your voice, and the voices of the others.

Sounds of water

2. Main episode: conversation, with Phoebe Osborne, Raoni Muzho, with Rajni Shah


Introduction

Layered plucked and bowed cello sounds play under the introduction.

Welcome to the Climate Imaginaries podcast.

I’m Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca – Lector of the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam – and together with Sabine Niederer from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Patricia de Vries from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy we lead the research program Climate Imaginaries, which aims to envision alternative, just and inclusive climate futures by challenging persisting binaries between nature and culture, water and land, humans and animals. In these podcasts, artists and other researchers from the Climate Imaginaries studios engage in dialogue about the themes of the projects, foregrounding perspectives often marginalized in mainstream debate.

The first two episodes of this podcast come from the studio hosted by the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam. I invited Rajni Shah to host these conversations as an artist and researcher who brings special attention to the act of listening.

For this second episode, I asked Rajni to host a dialogue between Phoebe Osborne and Raoni Muzho: two artists engaged in thinking with fluidity, trans*ness, and grief. Both artists are part of our Grief research group which runs alongside the Climate Imaginaries program.

This episode was recorded over zoom in October 2023, and the themes of grief and colonialism in relation to Palestine are very much in the foreground. In preparation for listening, if you haven’t done so already, we recommend pausing here and listening to the accompanying episode, in which Raoni guides a continuous sighing practice, before returning to this main part of the episode.

[2.30]


PART ONE: ARRIVING WITH GRIEF

Sounds of water fade in and continue under and between the following words

Raoni
Oh. So much grief in my heart. I’m like crying every day deeply like a baby. And I’m also allowing it, which is really important to me right now. The work that I feel like I can really do is allow that grief and, and not to say “now’s not the right time.”

Phoebe
I’m very tired. I am very tired. Um, I like that, I – I’m also, I mean, I’m having a very different, I think, a different experience of what’s happening right now. We’re just talking a little bit about it. But I’m really aware of like, I’m like aware of what’s happening there. And then I’m also aware of how it’s – like there’s a thing, there’s an event taking place here in New York, um, that is like a ripple. And it’s sort of like being also aware of and, and….um. And I’m just working a lot in a way that I like – haven’t – I just don’t have time, I’m just like rushing to catch up constantly every day. And feeling quite exhausted um… But also really… it’s such a beautiful time of year here. It’s so crisp and sunny in New York in the fall and I’m having a lot of nice gatherings with friends and, um, and finding the intimacy that happens inside of kind of surfaced or explicit solidarity.

Rajni
I feel like I fail at… in some ways I fail at being present with big grief in the world. Because I don’t know how. And… like I turn that over all the time. All the time. Because it’s always present this feeling of like, is it enough? Or, you know. How to – how to be in this world where we, we know so much about so much pain and grief and… there’s… yeah. The question of doing is always present for me, like, what do we, what do we do? What can I do? What does it do … to talk about it? How do I feel? And then how does that relate to this body in the world? And… yeah. Yeah.

Sounds of water slowly fade out under the next few sentences

And I’m glad for this, this moment, and to allow it to be whatever it needs to be for us. And really trusting that. And I’m really glad that also it’s taken us this long to get here. It feels really right. And I’m grateful to be able to work in that way.

Phoebe
Yeah. It’s such a special… the timing of this, the way the podcast project with its little plan has kind of been able to not follow a linear path – to, to like refuse that, and the trust and respect inside of that is, is really powerful. It’s like, it’s like juxtaposing the entirety of the rest of my life. Which is like, woah. Everything else is like, You must finish by this date, like now! Go! [laughs] So it’s like, yeah, there’s a real… This morning I was trying to kind of slowly prepare and lubricate my body and brain and feelings for this conversation. And I was reading some writing from Bayo Akomolafe. And he was writing about his autistic son. It was a very simple little story, but it just brought me to tears because it had this register that fell outside of – like even all this kind of like – I thought of it also when Rajni you talked about… you talked about how you don’t know how to respond or hold or register the, the… scale of, or what to do, or what, how, you know, like how to really… be with it all. And it made me think about this kind of like neurodiverse understanding of being in relation. And that it doesn’t have to be matching. That you don’t always have to be, like, mirroring the scale but that it can be a lot more nuanced and divergent and errant. And so… Yeah, I really appreciate, like also, the respect for that, or like, the care and trust inside of that. Yeah.

Raoni
Yeah. I think it’s beautiful, what you say about holding trust for being. Holding trust … for a sense of multiplicity with engaging with grief. And then even when we feel that we aren’t engaging or we don’t know how to grieve it, that there is… maybe micro-organisms that are working and doing and kind of unravelling things within their own um – maybe tempo or rhythm? – that might not be yet definable or understood. And yet there is this, like also this screaming voice of… the injustice and the voices that aren’t heard. And the – I wouldn’t say it’s guilt because I don’t feel that in my body at all – but a sense of responsibility, the pressure of responsibility, of living with the privilege of, er, of safety. Of of um… that’s it, just safety. The privilege of safety. And so, yeah, I find myself struggling with that … um… the pressure I feel from this sense of responsibility, my privilege for safety, and then this sense of trusting in the micro gestures of care I am enacting in my relationships in the world. So I’ve been going out and hugging trees because I saw a video of this Indigenous guy in Latin America, I think he was in Venezuela. And they were just saying that there are certain trees, and we know which trees they are, and we always go to them when we cannot express the pain in our heart to anyone. We go to these trees and we just lean, hug them, and we, we give them our heart. Everything that cannot be put into words, we give it to the trees. And so I’ve been trying to also practise this, going into the, or trying to do it, going into the park and just leaning on and feeling like I’m transferring weight into this like old system of knowledge and living body.

And then coming back home and feeling the pressure.

Phoebe
I think the pressure, something that comes up for me inside of holding that is like, the ways the pressure can like, um, take up space where it’s like it doesn’t need to be. Not that your- [not that] the pressure isn’t valid and valuable and and maybe is serving a purpose of some kind, but I think there’s some relief that I can find in remembering that, like, there’s like a whole – I’m inside of a whole network of people who are very devoted to the, to fighting the injustice. And so how do we live by or approach understandings of care that include ourselves – and understand and conceptualise care as something that’s happening within a multi-dimensional fabric? So there’s space, that the pressure can be distributed … um… and that the minor gestures and the major gestures that we’re engaging have different impacts and they’re not necessarily equatable to the size or visibility or like, str- you know, of the gesture. Um. Like, remembering that to just be able to stay more present and… But it’s so immense, the pain and the immediacy of it all.

And something that Rajni also said before you got on the call I thought was really helpful, or like, it’s staying with me, is that it’s always happening – that this kind of genocidal behaviour to enact property and control and dominance is an ongoing thing that’s happening all the time. And like, how that pressure comes up when, when the, when it comes to the surface. But how can we… Like, I don’t know, like the balance of being like: it’s surfaced, so I feel the pressure, but maybe the pressure could come down a little bit because the responsibility is always available to me? Or… I don’t know, I’m just kind of riffing, but I think our brains can really… try to, like, um, line everything up. Like scale and size and do and now and timing and urgency. We try to, like, match it all. But actually, I think things are happening in this super other multiplicity. Um. And trying to be like, okay, I surrender to that. I don’t know.

But I see your stress and your pain and I really love you inside of it. Yeah.

[15.56]

Raoni
There’s also a sense of um, like a huge sense of gratefulness also inside of me. Within all this gigantic ocean of grief, I also feel like a huge sense of um… gratefulness for, for what a body and like okay this, this singular body that is mine can also enact or hold or or um… assist or support when it comes to encounters with all these different people.We were at the demonstration yesterday and um, I don’t know, I feel like a gr- a huge sense of gratefulness for the ways that I have learned through this practice, through this grief practice, of how to be in those waters and how to just be in them, at the same time recognizing that – recognizing that I’m in it, but I’m staying afloat. Even when I’m diving deep, I am still holding my breath. I’m able to breathe. There’s not a single moment, even if I’m like, the water’s like clashing and I’m sometimes feeling like I’m drowning, I’m able to come up again. And I’m noticing that both through the proximity of relationship, I am able to – I had a beautiful encounter with one of my friends, James, he’s from Atlanta, a transmasc person from the ballroom community. And I saw him at the end of the demonstration march in Rotterdam and um… I saw him and I know I feel this sense also, this respons- sense of responsibility to allow the fragility to be there. And so I held him and I just cried. And I just said, like, it’s unbelievable. And mm, I don’t know, there’s something about that encounter that allowed also James, who has been going through personal stuff and not feeling like he could allow this big sense of grief also to enter into his heart, then his waters broke down, and then his partner was there and was holding us, and then their waters were breaking down. And we were just like, we became a cuddle in this immense body of … marching body, um, like.. crying, chanting, being in silence. And then there is these three bodies just holding each other on an elevated cement block. And all three of us are tearing.

And not only are we mourning what is happening in Palestine, but I’m sure that each one of us is mourning other things that are being touched upon, loosened, and um… it was just like, I had this like bird’s eye view of of the three of us, three trans bodies holding each other crying… Yeah, so there’s also a huge sense of – because I know this friend of mine has such a difficulty also – like, has, he’s going through this huge transformative process of allowing vulnerability to be there. And to hold his crying body in public? I never thought that that would really happen. So there’s also these, like these minor gestures that to me… I don’t know, signify such a huge sense of gratefulness of what this one, one body can enact, or support, or assist, or make happen.

Yeah. A huge sense of gratefulness is also present. Sounds of waters fade in and wash out again after about one minutePART TWO: ARRIVAL

Rajni
I’ll plant a little seed here to give us each a chance to arrive in words. And the invitation is really to continue to be with our bodies. And to speak anything, anything that feels that it needs to be spoken, for as long as you feel it. And also, I’ll plant the seed of invitation that if there are beings, human or nonhuman spirits, trees, waters, rocks that you would like to call in to be alongside us during our conversation, then there’s an invitation to do that too.

Gentle sounds of crackling fire fade in and then out

Raoni [speaking slowly and with pauses]
I want to start with a prayer. I am doing a prayer for the fires [sounds of Raoni lighting candles] and for the fire keepers. For the element of fire and the element of water. But water is always with us in this conversation, that right now is focused on Father Fire.

And this is for the fires that – for the forest fires, the fires that are able to burn old things, and the rich, the rich ecosystems that come from and are resurrected through the burnings of forests.

We have forgotten that forests need to also burn. That the trees have not been burned for logging industries to grow.

And I’m bringing, um, I’m bringing our attention to father fire and I’m asking father fire to fill our hearts with the deepest sense of passion for life. For dignity. For camaraderie. Our deepest sense of compassion for one another, for ourselves.

And may we learn and relearn how to burn the old that needs to be burnt. So that young and new and otherworldly can appear from it.

May we not be afraid of fires. When we meet fire, when we meet heat, extreme heat even, within ourselves, within others, may we learn how to give it air when needed, or comfort, assisted with a bit of water when needed.

May that what is not needed any more, what is hurtful, what is destructive, burn down, be transformed into life-giving forces.

May the fire bring us, connect us to black noise.

Crackling night-time fire sounds fade in and then fade out after about a minute

Phoebe
For, um, for our time today together I really want to bring into the room three of my dearest trans ancestors. One is Marsha P Johnson. She’s been really present with me this week with her, with her wisdom of pay no mind. And, um, I’ve really been holding her with me in my pocket every day, her courage, and her joy, and her grief… um… and the incredible power that her life continues to just like bloom and bloom and bloom. It just kind of blows me away. Um… And Ursula and Ariel are two friends of mine, and they’re always with me, so they’re also here today. [laughs gently] Ursula with her scratchy car sales and chain smoker voice, and Ariel with her persistence and her curiosity and her, her risk taking. Yeah.

And um.

And also, I’m just like, while you were speaking Raoni about fire, I … somehow it really brought to my mind care work and all… and I really started to envision, like, every gesture of love and care that’s happening while we’re together in this time today. That like all over the planet are all these big and small gestures of love and care for someone else. And, and to just kind of like let that register, that big web of care that’s just pulsating – to also honour that and really… yeah, feel the kind of complex, and like the – there’s something about care that is, that both… that brings forth this braid of grief and joy, where there is this intimacy of the tenderness and love while there’s this like expansive register of grief or loss or need or vulnerability or sickness or illness or death or falling apart. Um… So I also felt the desire to just like let that kind of blanket, or whatever it is, that oceanic un-still kind of thrusting, pulsing, moving shapeshifting body of care, to be with us today as well. 

Sounds of a wild ocean come in under Phoebe’s words and continue for just under a minute

[33.40]

Rajni
There are some tensions present for me. I think I’m both not afraid and afraid to feel um all the time! [laughs] They’re very enmeshed somehow – that my not-afraidness-to-feel is what makes me afraid to feel – or afraid to bring that to be with other people, to be in the world. And I’ve been… I think I’ve been kind of holding, like, like tenderly holding tension, and trying to work out how to do that, you know? Like how to, to create the container. And in a way, to think about, I’ve been thinking about how to allow the youngest, most frightened part of me to be allowed to create the container so that it’s as soft and as welcoming and as holding as it needs to be. There’s so much landscape, there’s so many internal landscapes, and I know that, and I know of the wisdom that lies there, and yet I also forget it over and over again.

I’d like to call in the spirit of my grandmother, Sushila, who I could never speak to because we didn’t speak the same language. Um… but she, she and I both carried a lot of emotion and, and cried a lot. [gentle laugh] Um. Yeah, we just, we cried a lot at the emotion of, of saying hello and saying goodbye. And I will never forget the sound she made when it was, when she was dying and and I had to leave. And she just, it sounded like this little bird. Mmm. 

I want to call in my my friend and fellow feminist killjoy Ellen O’Brien. And also one of my teachers, Jozen Tamori Gibson. Er. Yeah. Maybe without any big explanations of why, I’d like to call in their, their energy. And… I would like to acknowledge the tree that’s outside my apartment that’s always with me. And in this funny way that it’s like the back of the apartments and they all look down, but it’s people’s gardens. And so I’ll never be able to touch that tree because it’s in somebody’s garden. And at the same time, it’s so much a part of my life. And, and the birds that live there are so much a part of my rhythms. And so that tree is also is also present with us.

Um. I’m very, I’m very deeply grateful for you both.

Sounds of ocean fade in again for about a minute, and then fade out again

[38.45]


PART THREE: PRESSURE

Raoni
There’s, er, multiple things rising right now in me. And I’m noticing a thought going: so much silence! How will we make, be able to make a podcast out of this? [laughter] There’s a, yeah, a sense of er the worry of product, and a product that is viable, that is um … yeah, viable. Yeah, I’m sensing er, wow, how the fear of capitalist production – what that does to the psyche. And then I’m, at the same time as I’m resisting to say something, I’m also loving and enjoying so much to listen to the background noises and sometimes here and there your breaths that comes through. And imagining. Yeah, just. Yeah, wondering what can be made of this space of quietude together? Like an intentional space of quietude that we’re creating by refusing or maybe resisting the, um, the pressure of production. Which I feel right now! [laughter] I mean, not feel but… [more laughter].Rajni
I think it’s important to acknowledge the, the pressure around the idea of production and maybe also to, to weave it back to, that we really began – before we began, we were also with pressure, and talking about and experiencing pressure. That was very present. And maybe there’s something in there, some kind of gift in there too.Phoebe
It’s so clear for me that around this podcast, actually, one of the things that really was coming up before, you know, we got on this call, even in the days leading up to it, um… thinking about this pressure, you know, this capitalist pressure, this pressure of productivity, and how I actually have like a real kind of lived experience at this moment of like, holding it together to just stay on the track. Like, really, this is the track. This is the timing. This is when you have to do this and be here and you have to give the – deliver these things – you have to deliver. And, and really, like, the way it’s exhausted me and the ways in which then, just in our pre-conversation as we were just checking in and chatting, even just when we were looking at each other’s faces, Raoni, like, I really felt your grief in a way that registered the pressure I feel to not feel my grief – like it was a real moment of, like, the ways those things are negotiating each other so much. And like, um… to make a podcast that holds space for this kind of oceanic, nonlinear, freefalling, um, disorienting black noise abundant space of, of being with and becoming with – like, a lot of the deliverables kind of go out the window and, and there’s a real, there’s almost, there’s an excitement there. It’s like even in the failure, or the potential for failure, and the possibility of something illegible (or something) unfolding… I don’t know. I, I think that that tension that’s so present inside of us together now inside of the contents that we’re holding and the ways we’re trying to approach it is… is palpable, to say the least. 

Raoni
Yeah. It’s um, it’s interesting, as we’re speaking to/about pressure, I have to think about a Shiatsu session I had with Anjo. And I remember that as Anjo was treating me, and I said that I needed a little bit more pressure, I remember Anjo suggesting actually um… to soften the pressure. And how can I become perceptive to a softer kind of pressure on to my radiance. And suggesting that I learn, or like I, I lean into and attune to a softer kind of pressure onto the system. And er… which made me think a lot about how accustomed we are to – when we feel maybe a sense of responsibility rising in our daily lives – like, I think the nervous system, our nervous systems are so taught to perceive, through these systems of oppression, perceive any kind of pressure as hard pressure. Or perceive any kind of, maybe resistance, as: it needs to be a kind of hard kind of pressure we give back. And, yeah, what kind of undoing or smudging the edges does it take to perceive pressure with a, maybe softer kind of attunement? Or… maybe believe or entice ourselves that the pressure we’re feeling… yeah. How to become rounder towards it so that we can perceive maybe the nuances of how that pressure enacts itself onto the psyche, onto the spirit, the body… What kind of breath does that need? What kind of breathing does that need?

Phoebe
Mm.

Recently I have been like um, really… I guess it’s been some months now, but for a while – maybe a year or so ago, my friend Talya had written in their notebook ‘less effort’. And then they were doing a kind of meditation, writing, thinking through these things, and wrote ‘less effort’ on their journal and then went to the kitchen to get a snack and came back and looked at their journal and they had accidentally written ‘less effot’ without the R. Which is like this really like – because it really brings the child – sound, you know, like “less effot.” And so we started to say this all the time. [laughter] And then it mutated for me into thinking about – I started to just tell myself: less is usually enough. And so starting to try to like, understand that register of like, yeah, what you’re saying Raoni around pressure, like: where is actually, what’s actually enough? And like how much less can I give or receive? How can I really go find the different registers of, of pressure?

And then also, I just want to share that while you were talking, I started to think about like touch and forms of touch, and then registered your voice coming in through my headphones and like touching my ears and feeling you touch me, and really put my attention towards this very haptic experience of pressure in my ears, like this little dance of pressure that was registering from your voice. And it was also incredibly pleasurable and special, so…

Raoni
Mmm.

Phoebe
Yeah.

[49.10]

Sounds of soft ocean waves fade in briefly, and then out again


PART FOUR: PLAY


Raoni: Rajni, I wrote down the question: how to allow the most young, the most frightened part of ourselves to create a container of… of holding? And as I’m looking down at this question, yeah, trying to be present in the listening with you two, and touching your ears with my breathing [gentle laughter] and being touched by your breath, I am thinking, I am… I had the deepest pleasure to spend some time with the five year old of a Palestinian friend of ours. His name is Niu. And um… I’ll just share maybe a couple of instances of our play together. When we meet each other, we just immediately play together. Um. And so I’m kind of maybe also speaking, by like bringing these moments of play to you, is also speaking maybe to the youngest part of ourselves. Um, yeah. There was a moment where um we were waiting, his mom and Dina were getting sandwiches for us, and me and Niu were outside on the Java Street where, where, we’re just hanging out and he asks me out of nowhere: Do you have a dick? [laughter]

And… And I’m like, okay! [more laughter] This came out of nowhere! This is un- and it’s like a busy erm busy er shopping street. And, and he’s like, Do you have a dick? And um. And so also maybe it’s important to mention that our shared language is in Dutch, which is both the language – he doesn’t share that language with both Dina and his mom. So it’s a very particular and specific relationship that me and him are building through, through Dutch. So he asks me, Do you have – Heb jij een piemel? And er I say um, I tell him: Oh, okay. Er this is um, I said to him, this is erm… I appreciate the question. And we can totally talk about this also. But right now and right here is not the right place. This is quite an intimate question. And so let’s talk about it when we get home. But we can totally talk about it.

And then he said, erm, are you a boy or a girl? I say, I , yeah I’m a boy. And he said, huh, I didn’t know that! … But why do you, why do you wear so many things like a girl? And by this time, I’m, like, crouched or, like, sitting lower so that I’m on his eye height. And I said, and I responded with: well, because I don’t want to be like a normal boy. I… you know those birds that have those beautiful feathers? I feel like I have all these beautiful feathers. And I just want to show these feathers to the world. And er, and, yeah, that’s my way of showing what kind of boy I am. And then er… and he, like, kind of looked at me with, like, one eyebrow up, and then he started, like, walking circles around me [laughs]. And I’m like: Niu. What are you doing? Like. “I’m checking out if you are beautiful.” 

Phoebe: Wow. [exlamations, laughter]

Raoni:And then, and then he’s like, um: I like your jacket. Your jacket – which is the jacket that also says on the back: trashy fagot [laughter], It’s a bomber jacket that says trashy fagot. He’s like, I like your jacket. Mmm. I don’t know. And then I unzipped my jacket and I said, and I’m wearing a shirt of er, with like Bruce Lee face, like many Bruce Lee faces. And I’m like, What do you think of my shirt? He’s like, I don’t like it so much. And I’m like: But, but Bruce Lee is legendary. And then I talk to everyone that is kind of passing us by, and I’m like: Hey, do you know Bruce Lee?
And. Yeah. Do you think he’s legendary?
Everybody’s like “yeah, Bruce Lee’s legendary.”

So our conversation around dicks and gender turned into karate and and Bruce Lee. And um and… and then we got home and at home we played hide and seek. We built a hut. And he had a little ball and he wanted us to hide it. And then we each time take turns into finding this ball. And we would guide each other by saying ‘hot’ or ‘cold’. And this, the the excitement squeals when when I would say, “Oh, my God! Hot hot hot hotter hotter!” And just a feeling how, how his, like no- seeing how his body is like, [excited sound] like his little hands. Like clenching, shake and like, his whole face gleaming with excitement trying to find the hottest place. And um…

Yeah, I don’t know, it just, as I’m looking down to this question, I’m wondering also about like strategies of both play, but also distraction, or playful distraction …um…that we do with maybe our younger kin, that can also maybe be invited when this pressure is felt.

So how can we name the thing that feels so um, so precious, but also un- through its preciousness unable to to feel or to hold? And how can we turn that into like a little ball that maybe we play hide and seek with a little bit?


PART FIVE: CODA

Sounds of gentle waves fade in and then was out as Phoebe is speaking

Phoebe
…and speaking of caves, the first tarot card that, um, was on top of this little pile that just fell out like a little package is The Hermit. Um. And it’s really beautiful. It’s the image on this tarot deck that Charlie gave me is of a young boy. A child sitting on the floor with his record player and a record in his hand, and he’s staring up, and he’s in this, like, galactic outer space universe of stars. And, um, so that is the first card. The second card is the upside down tower card. Um, which in this card is actually of a forest fire and trees falling – black charred trees. Which is so interesting because… 

Raoni
So interesting.

Sounds of fire gently come in over the following words

Phoebe
And I, and I actually didn’t share this, but um something also kind of wild that happened in this podcast is that one of the other candles on this little altar I made was a long thin beeswax candle that was wedged into this piece of charcoal from a wildfire out in California. I collected a bunch of the charcoaled wood, the burned trees. And I had drilled a little hole into it so that I could put a candle inside of it. And I had it lit. And right as we began, the candle went out. It burned all the way through. And then it just was smoke. And there was just this spire of smoke floating up out of this piece of charcoal from a wildfire. So really like the, the objects and the thinking and the words and the, and the planet is really, I feel, like, present.

Waves come in over the fire and continue over the following words

And then the very small little excerpt from a book I love very dearly called Trans Care by Hil Malatino. Um, I’m just going to read this very short paragraph:

“I have also felt compelled to write about trans archives and historicity because a common feature of trans arts, of cultivating resilience has to do with turning to the historical record for proof of life, for evidence that trans lives are livable because they have been lived. Care enters here as well. Because we turn to the archive for the purpose of support and self-care. But in that turning, we are also confronted with the ineffability and alterity of these personages, many of them only a trace, a suggestion, a minor life only lightly embroidered upon in the scraps to which we have access. How do we care for the traces of past lives that haunt us in ways that are loving insofar as they offer a balm through providing evidence of past trans flourishing and joy, and terrifying because they testify to the conditions of intense violence that these subjects lived within and through. How do we care for these ghosts that take such care of us?”

Water sounds continue for about a minute, and then slowly fade out

Layered sounds of cello bowing and plucking play underLaura’s voice:CreditsClimate Imaginaries is part of the Art Route NWA-project ‘Bit by bit, or not at all’ financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and an Imagination Laboratory within the SPRONG project Imagination in Transitions. It is also made possible with the support of Centre of Expertise for Creative Innovation (CoECI) in Amsterdam. Sound design, editing, and cello by Fili 周 Gibbons of Studio Apothicaire. For full credits, biographies, and transcripts please visit https://climateimaginariesatsea.org. Thanks for listening.