Stones Under Stress by Ruth Höflich

RH_image copy

Ruth Höflich, Stones Under Stress (from series), 2020, archival inkjet print

I move to the edge of the wall, touch the surface which is cold and chalky. What house system are you using? Yours is a new house, one you designed yourself. You open the window. I talk about what was on my mind that night. An image of two habits short-circuiting. One stimulated by the other, something being distilled, boiled down. That it was meant to be. You reposition my chair, wipe down the table. That it’s still a region of tissue, strata of flesh and nerves and muscle. I go through my list, I mention resistance training, flexibility, geophysical processes. You pour liquid into a glass. I steady the glass with my hand. I use the other to push the image across and let it drip, discharge onto the wooden surface like some form of glandular secretion. 

‘How do you speak to yourself? Can you describe to me what you see?’ I use this to extrapolate. A sample that turned out false. Incorrect memories printing out, permeating the room, the house, the kitchen. Pressure on either side of the head, the temples and sockets. That it was hard to detect, that I used a felt-tip pen to mark the affected areas. That I wanted it to be accurate. I gulp down the water, watch your feet sink deep into the carpet as we move around the internal architecture. The carpet that cancels the noise from underfloor piping and technological equipment. That amplifies incoming currents. Lower frequencies that seem unlikely to impact me later on. That are non-calcified. That I don’t remember. That I’m not likely remember. ‘It’s logical to think that you see when your eyes are open, when you focus hard. It’s economical.’ I see you look at something, something sluggish, parched. Several inches wide. I watch you lift it out. I watch you being gentle with it, considerate. ’From when you were nineteen.’ You pull it out of the blanks, move your hands along the tiny folds and hairline cracks. ‘Look straight up, then follow my finger.’ I look at the ceiling. You crouch down, receive something. Something destratified. Something I made available. I imagine being a host. Imagine the prep, the marinating. The physiological details of lowering resistance. I watch your remote view thinning out, decomposing as you move closer in. Sweat collecting on your forehead, around the fold of your neck. People and intergenerational transmissions. Yours this time. ‘I think it’s just nature, no reason.’

Back at the table, I feel you tapping on the back of my left hand. I repeat after you, stretch out my arms, follow your other instructions. ‘Go back to something you feel certain of. You can go to the dictionary. You can increase the oxygen level’ I go and close the window. I try not to exhale, let the air move around first. Not to water myself down. You comment on the rain. ‘It’s just nature emptying out.’ I worry about the outlets and light switches. About detecting surface anomalies. ’Can you feel it? See it coming?’ You sit back down. ‘But it’s not emotional. It’s other variables.’ We drink more of the water. You tell me to add salt when I get home, that it will help with replenishing fluids.

Ruth Höflich (born in Munich, Germany, lives in Melbourne) is a visual artist working with photography, video and text.

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