• The Hedge of Halomancy
    Himali Singh Soin &
    David Soin Tappeser

Hylozoic/Desires, “The Hedge of Halomancy,” 2024. Digital image. Courtesy the artists

Using historical archives, this project investigates the Great Salt Hedge of India, a 4,000-kilometer hedge of plums and plants built by the British empire across present-day India and Pakistan in order to prevent the smuggling of salt. This enormous, artificial, yet living barrier across the subcontinent was operational for most of the nineteenth century but has now mostly disappeared from collective memory as well as the physical landscape. Juxtaposed with these historical records are fictional interludes in which the prophecies from salt divination seep across the mesh. An alien character, an oracle using halomancy, begins to smuggle these stories as tools of anticolonial resistance. The intended film is about borders and the movement of ideas, vegetal lines that grow, ripen, and rot; smuggling as an informal network of exchange and rebellion; indigenous knowledge as a decolonial epistemology; and the porosity of the material and the immaterial.

Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser) is a multimedia performance duo whose work combines poetry and original music to conjure speculative futures and multiverses. Hylozoic/Desires (H/D) aspires toward a flat ontological ether in which all forms of life—stone, spirit, machine, or human—are equal. They skew the linear imagination of time and space to produce divergences that elicit wonder. H/D’s research orbits around (non)place and histories of migration, transnationalism, and environmental cosmism to learn from the multiple materialities of contemporary existence. Hylozoic/Desires use metaphor as an event, as a force of attraction that holds otherwise distant entities together. Their collaborative works have recently been shown at Art Institute of Chicago, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Desert X 2023, Biennale Gherdëina ∞, Haus der Kunst, and Serpentine Galleries among others. Soin is a writer and artist based between London and Delhi. She uses metaphors from outer space and the natural environment to construct imaginary cosmologies of interferences and entanglements. In doing this, she thinks through ecological loss and the loss of home, seeking shelter somewhere in the radicality of love. She has a bachelor’s degree in theatre and English literature from Middlebury College and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London. Soin Tappeser is a drummer, composer, and performance artist based between London and Delhi. His practice explores socio-eco-spiritual-tempo-somatic dimensions of sound. His performances and compositions use rhythm to unearth, manipulate and deconstruct linear perceptions of time, interdependence, and alterity. They hint at intercultural entanglements, parallel histories and extra-human frames of reference while thinking about environmental destruction and sociopolitical fissures. He has a bachelor’s degree in music and study of religion from SOAS University of London, a diploma from the American School of Modern Music and an MRes in anthropology from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris.