Victoria Lucas (b.1982, UK) is an artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art. She is currently a Platform20 artist-in-residence at Site Gallery, as part of the Freelands Artist Programme (2020 - 2022).
Victoria uses technology to remap, embody and entangle the material strata of landscapes, a process in which female subjectivity is reimagined and reclaimed in place. She often incorporates sculptural forms with video, photography, sound, and performance.
Victoria Lucas, 2020
A delta once flowed across this site.
The grit from pushing tides and flowing water builds.
The dead sink and settle on the delta bed.
Moss, the first land based plants, form part of these gritty ingredients that now petrify into cold hard matter.
Stone is made over millennia, recycling what once thrived into another form. Stone is silent. Machines chip away at time. Tools dig in, pulling apart the sacred shape of history. Cracked open, quarries are the wounds of the Earth’s surface, revealing pains and internal workings. An extraction of bodies, the grit of the past is hewn from its resting place and displaced. The resulting absence is replaced with pooling air, which touches the new rock face for the very first time. The air is bittersweet.
The rock is knowing. It sees what it touches.
The old quarry envelops my body as I enter its absence. There are many species of moss, growing across every surface. Trees have established themselves on the edges of the opening, both at the top of the wound and deep inside where sheltered saplings sprung out of the cracks left by the mark of hand tools.
A forest of polytrichum commune moss covers the central space of the quarry bottom. The colony stand tall, a small thriving forest of vibrant, illuminous green. She populates a wound inflicted on the land by the hands of men - protecting the raw cut of the rock with a film of living matter. Photosynthesis is palpable, the whole space feels alive - electric - and the longer I stay the more I become part of it. My senses heighten, my pupils dilate. I become animal - I am an animal - and she holds me in her wisdom.
This is her space, and she welcomes me in.
I dream of giving birth with her, on her. The moss is soft, a natural bed that supports my body and connects me to the inside of the earth like a membrane fusing me with the scared surface of ancient matter, deposited 350 million years ago. I think of my body, and how everything is made up of the same thing. I am the rock, I am the moss, I am the landscape.
The water in my body is drawn downwards towards the gametophytes. I imagine myself as the absent stone, compressed under the weight of time, bodily liquid oozing out of its encasement to quench the thirst of my bryophyte ancestors. Moss, the first land based plant. A unique environment that supports all other species to grow. She supports me now, as I bear down in what feels like the centre of the earth’s embrace.
The moss is magnificently hormonal. Radiating the essence of their matriarchal powers, their daughters thrive out of the violence that ravaged the earth. Their skill and resilience is powerfully silent. Their quiet knowing fills the quarry. I unwittingly lay upon a bed of radical feminists, and I can feel their power on my skin, in my lungs, in my blood. Here, I melt in to her presence silently and all that I am is reclaimed by her.
Heightened senses, the allure of the moss washes over me, filling my body with euphoric electricity. I breath deeply, calmly. Something inside it ignited, my own source of feminine power that has been laying dormant all of these years. Called up from the depths of my bones, from the pit of my stomach, from the inside of my veins. I lay relaxed yet alert. I hear their collective whispers activated by the breeze, beckoning my body to evaporate and merge with theirs.
Our bodies are powerful. I let go. Ecstasy. Sporophytes extend. Spores are released, floating across the turbulent breeze until caught by the earth’s grasp. Females colonise. Dwarf males are organised so that their seed rains down into extraordinary wombs. My blood is absorbed by the moss, enriching it with a metallic power that can be tasted on the damp air. My hands are red, spores stick to skin. Using the viscous coagulate to establish themselves.
Oxytocin ignites the depth of my being as new life take root and grows strongly within. Bone and sinew are formed, as we are absorbed towards the earth. Soil and clay compact underneath my fingernails, separating tissue from keratinous plate. Finger tips throb as blood pools, forming crescent shapes of crimson.
Fracturing, splintering, disintegrating, evaporating.
The cellular structures of my body dissipate, and I am drawn down towards the rhizoids that connect the colony to the earth. Gritstone vibrates as it meets my liquidity for the first time. I touch the surface of the rock and it senses my warmth. Barely audible whispers fill the air… gasps of ecstasy are released from in between the ancient grit. I absorb my ancestors’ energy through a process of osmosis.
Their embodiment enlivens innate powers.
The vibrations grow into tremors, and human matter fuses with rock. The rock engulfs eagerly, an interpenetration of human and nonhuman matter. The smell of ancient water is released in to the air. I sink in deeper, sliding myself between substance.
The temperature of the stone is welcoming as the tremors of the earth are embodied and the surges begin. Powerful energy is liquid, and flows in through the skin cells towards a fleshy, gelatinous uterus. She works with her ancestors and her offspring in unison, each assuming their roles - the past, the present and the future.
An omnipotent gynaecolatrous network.
So close to the edge of my being.
Exquisitely beautiful pain.
A power takes hold from within that is summoned from the very beginnings of existence, and it flows through every part of my body, consuming me with an essence of life that is raw and vigorous. My body works hard, drawing me deeper in to myself, pulling my inner self towards my daughter as we work together to birth her in to the universe. The liquid from her emplacement is drawn towards thirsty mothers and daughters.
We lay together.
The stillness of stone.
I will my body’s temperature to drop… my skin to harden. I become fossilised, a trace of my previous form remains. My presence melds with hers as our fibres meet under the weight of time. As we are compressed, our atomic structures transform, and we unite in our liquid splendour, forever becoming, becoming, becoming.
I am encased, like a foetus unable to distinguish where I begin and end. My parameters, the boundary marked by skin, is indistinguishable. All the air and water that once inhabited my body is squeezed, and it trickles away into the groundwater, to be later drunk by my offspring.