Romily Alice Walden
Structures of Care (scaffolds #1-6), 2020
Six channel video, each video between 1’ 59” and 2’ 32”
Six screens are placed in a grid formation, three wide and two down. Each screen shows a scaffold structure made of matchsticks. These structures are placed on a dirt floor covered with leaves in front of a cement and brick wall. The structures look uneven, fragile and precarious, forming grids and columns, bridges and towers, all of which look close to collapse. Each structure is on fire. Some burn quickly in a blaze that turns the light-coloured wood to black. Smoke rises from these structures in an angry fog. Some burn slowly, their flames buffeted by the wind. As each structure burns it topples over and falls to the ground. Once floored, the structures continue to burn, weakly, fighting to stay ablaze with no protection and with a limited fuel supply. As each structure burns, a text comes and goes on the screen; a prayer and a dedication to a named person, spoken as the scaffold turns to ash.
This series, Structures of Care (scaffolds #1-6) speaks to precarity, devotion and care in a time of isolation and uncertainty. Sick and disabled bodies, already living under the strains of late-stage capitalism and an inability to adhere to expectations of labour, productivity and worth, are once again shown to be dispensable in the eyes of normative culture during a global pandemic. How can we care for each other in these times? How can we foster much-needed tenderness and meaningful support within our communities? These caring structures that we make, although fragile and built on flimsy foundations without structural support, are nonetheless vital. Our care is whispered over the wind, as we fall and flail, as we collect each other from the ground, as we send our prayers into the night, with only each other to hear them.
Romily Alice Walden is an artist based in Berlin. They are a transdisciplinary artist whose work centres a queer, disabled perspective on the fragility of the body.