Salt + Loving; Halophile
Grace Ferguson, Emma Phillips, Trevor Santos , Annika Koops
1 Aug–31 Oct 2021
Salt + Loving;
Halophile; any organism, as certain halobacteria and marine bacteria, that requires a salt-rich environment for its growth and survival. 
I am forever in the ocean, singing songs. My breeze made of salty liquid that was transformed into air. It disappeared into another form in the same way that I had been thinking of disappearing … but still remaining. I can still feel the wetness on my face. I can still feel the salty brine sinking into my skin as I walked down the length of the pier. Water on other planets has different constituencies of salt. I rub coarse salt across my dermis, getting rid of dry dead skin. There is something comforting in the notion that part of me dies, but I am still living and forging forward. Just scrub it off; just scrub it off; coalesce love with salt; just scrub it off. Halophiles can be found in water-bodies with a salt concentration more than five times greater than that of the ocean. I cried you a sea of saline to stitch your boat to mine. I cast aside my greatest fears and welcomed you into my life.
I will bind your wounds in salt in order to protect you.
Grace Ferguson, poikilos, 2021, piano and electronics, 4:41. Mixed and Mastered by Pat Telfer. Work courtesy of the artist.
The salty lip of the chalice. Segregate and delineate and hum to keep it all together. To remain in the belly of a hum; a low, continuous, droning sound.* Stay in tune; stay in line; rub salt in the wound and put your head down from sight. Floating in fluidity and excess. So we perform a hundred little miracles a day to keep emotions in line and suffering at bay. And in the darkness, drop drop, slow tears.* A mass of voices, elemental, and then a distention to no one. I sat alone in the choir. What happens when a swarm of individual elements coalesce? She extracted data in order to inform our becoming. We are shaped by patterns; coarse grains of salt. Tears created from different types of emotions have a different visual makeup under the microscope — our feelings inform our biological formation. Small parts of us become embedded in the digital web. Liquid is formed from solid and we make stock from the very salt of our own labour. How do we find mooring in a sea of information?* We carry on for love of the image and cast salt as a marker of devotion.
Annika Koops, Torrent, 2021, digital video, 01:03. Work courtesy of the artist.
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Synchronised dancers), 2018, gelatin silver print / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Cave pillar), 2018, gelatin silver print / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
Nourish me and corrode me. Wrap me in excess and tell me nothing. Confuse me with your image. Salt can be used for nourishment or punishment. It gives and takes away. Ancient landscapes were formed through the accumulation of salty granules. While salt is tangible, love exists mostly as an internal dialogue one has with oneself.* Perform intimate acts of idealisation and notice small moments of divinity within the mundane. Form landscapes over millennia and give virtue to the snapshot. Draw me out and cast me with jarring proclivity — gaze beyond the gymnast's body, I am more than just mere trickery.
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Family portraits in living room), 2018, gelatin silver print, / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
The tension of how we relate to one another. You will never be able to fully capture me. Do we know each other better than we know ourselves? Sometimes I can understand your concerns before you can make your realisations felt and heard. I help you get to the moment of surrender sooner. Other times I misunderstand and push you closer to the draw. I seem to be able to be most within thoughts of love, when alone. Perhaps I need space and time to fully fall into or remain within warm saline thoughts of you, just as salt needs time to form, we need time apart to appreciate each other. Stand me on a ledge, then anchor me, asunder. Melt me into cliff face and meld me under spotlight. Let the briny depths of your wells satiate my salty sides.
Trevor Santos, In Other Words, 2021, dance film, 03:53. Work courtesy of the artist.
The time that it takes to make salt. My knees felt the crunch of sand beneath me. My knees felt the crunch of sand beneath you. I rocked back and forth, turning your sand to salt. I was marked by sand and saline, ready to be undertaken through your wave time. This need for ‘love’ brings us to this moment.*  Time is slippery here, yet, we persevere. Shape me into what you know I am capable of. The words that were not spoken have been ground down as a taste on my tongue. Distil me and boil me and change my biology. Tenderness is a virtue in hindsight, when words cannot be taken back or when it is too late to espouse them. It is all within the timing of your words within mine. I wrap my lips around phrases and pass them to you. Your tongue coats my sentences with sweet honeyed dew. Depending on how much water you use, your salt may take a long time before it is ready for consumption.
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Black eye), 2017, gelatin silver print / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Kid with broken arm at Frankston Pier), 2017, gelatin silver print / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
From brawn to bare to brave to brazen to broken and back again. I wore many colours throughout our journey together. Strike a block of salt with a hard object and it will shatter into a scattering of jewels. Mix it with water and it will dissolve into tears. Sit me on the shelf and let my salty edges melt. We were coming up again and again in dismay, but the bickering was gritty and coarse and sometimes cause for celebration. I rubbed you between my fingertips and my skin was coated with salt. Butterfly fish mate for life and swim in pairs in the sea-water. We floated across the reef hand in hand and followed two, together.
Love will never leave you.
We become marked with one another’s DNA. I am bound up in your biology. We are preserved in one another, like food in salt. Nourishment can continue even after we have moved on. Or the bitterness on the tongue can remain. Preservation is an archaic act and one that can save us, while creating the possibility of danger. We trigger one another spontaneously. A scent or smell can cast you back to an old love. How do we move forward into the arms of another when past physical rituals and rights are sunk into the body? They say it takes seven years. The rate of transmission builds velocity for sound. Moving towards great dedications to love usually requires acts of deep listening. We are gritty and disarming when together. Respite is generally found when swimming in the sea-water. People can function as audible fingerprints— liken these to grains of salt, liken these to individual snow-flakes. Is an asterisk a grain of salt cast as common language? She told me that her ear ached, full of sea-water from the night. She told me how the salt had cut into her knees as a child— it was a traditional form of punishment. I held her in my arms.
Love never leaves the body.
I am swept up in the disarming rhythms of your ocean. I am drawn through slips and swells. Bodies whisper and form new sea-foam. I cannot always locate the meeting points of our desire, but can feel the imprint of your skin on mine. Am I falling more into the fold or am I cast further afield? I walked out of the ocean, swaying to the song of mandolin. My voice was bound in honey, words were sticky. I could taste you in the back of my throat. I am still nervous. Salt-water pours between my thighs. The body recalibrates and reminds. My legs still feel like seaweed. We must remember to leave time for intimacy, giving space to fluvial possibility. The salty water calls for my return...
Let’s attempt to sing as salty one.
My love, we have just begun.
— poetic text by Josephine Mead, 2021.
* Dictionary contributors, “Halophile”, Dictionary, <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/halophile>
* Dictionary contributors, "hum", Dictionary, <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hum>
* Drop, drop, slow tears created from text by the Jacobean poet and clergyman Phineas Fletcher (1582-1650) with composition by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625).
* Email correspondence with Annika Koops, July 14 2021.
* Email correspondence with Emma Phillips, July 12 2021.
* Email correspondence with Trevor Santos, July 15 2021.
* Header image:
Emma Phillips, Untitled (Seascape), 2018, gelatin silver print / jpeg, courtesy of the artist and ReadingRoom.
Love can be gritty and jarring, like salt.
Love can be the addition that makes everything work harmoniously, like salt.
Both love and salt have the ability to at-once preserve and sting.
The artists in Salt + Loving; Halophile present works that examine the similarities and slippages between these two states.
Blindside Mobile is a curated online platform for projects in the digital space by Victorian-based creatives.
Mobile is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.
This program takes place on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded - this land is stolen land. We pay respects to Wurundjeri Elders, past, present and emerging, to the Elders from other communities and to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders who might encounter or participate in the program.
Grace Ferguson is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and piano educator based at Eastmint Studios in Naarm, Australia. Her works often reflect a curiosity in the subconscious, the intangible, the process of memory recall and chance. Coalescing composed and improvised material Grace’s live performances draw from her classical training but also significantly depart from it through an intuitive and gestural approach to melody, rhythm, dynamics and silence.
Emma Phillips is a photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work, set around the focal point of the home, probes ideals of domesticity, womanhood, memory and dreams. From 2014-2019 Emma was the photobook buyer at Perimeter Books, where she implemented the Perimeter Talks program, a series of panel discussions, lectures, and casual in-conversations with publishers, artists, curators, designers, writers and editors exploring various themes relating to contemporary publishing. Emma is an occasional writer and educator and often works across editorial and commercial contexts in photography. She is represented by ReadingRoom.
Trevor Santos is a Melbourne born and raised dance artist. He is critically acclaimed with recently receiving 4-star review in the Age for his first solo work ‘100 Haikus;’ his practice revolves around emotion, expression and intimacy. Worked alongside artists - Guy Sebastian, Missy Higgins, Hayden Calnin, Sheppard, Kira Piru, Dual Manner and Hangeng (2012 MTV world artist). With over a decade of experience as an instructor and choreographer, Trevor has been able to teach in cities like New York, Beijing, Sydney, Gold Coast, Perth and Hobart.
Annika Koops is a Naarm (Melbourne) based artist working between painting and digital media. Her works consider how subjectivity may be distilled and reformatted in the digital realm. Current contrasts imaging technologies associated with biometrics with painterly practice to creatively interpret how bodily traces operate in cultural and economic fields. Annika has exhibited nationally and internationally at a variety of ARI’s, public institutions and private galleries. Works are included in Australian public collections such as Art Bank, MONA Hobart and The University of Melbourne Collection. She is represented by Bett Gallery, Hobart and is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University.
Josephine Mead is a visual artist, curator and writer based on Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri woi-wurrung Country. She works through photography, sculpture, installation and writing to explore personal notions of support. Her recent work has positioned female family members as support-structures, considered the body as a site of discursive practice, explored notions of deep listening, and examined the temporal and sonic nature of writing and photography. She has held solo exhibitions at c3 contemporary art space, TAB Gallery (Turkey), Bus Projects and the Monash and RMIT faculty galleries. She has shown work in group exhibitions at a wide range of venues, including Blindside, Stockroom, Craft Victoria, Stacks Projects, Counihan Gallery, Five Walls, St Heliers Street Gallery, Kings Artist Run, Seventh, Blue Oyster Space (New Zealand) and as part of the TOMI Arts Festival (Japan). In 2018 she undertook the Arquetopia Foundation Residency (Puebla, Mexico), the Kings Emerging Writer’s Program, the Macfarlane Fund Residency (Kyneton, Victoria) and was published by Art+Australia and un projects. In 2019 she was awarded a Career Development Grant through the Australia Council for the Arts to undertake the Tasarim Bakkali TAB Residency (Istanbul, Turkey) and the Córtex Frontal Residency (Arraiolos, Portugal). In 2020 she commenced the ZK/U Residency at Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (Berlin, Germany). She is a current Room to Create studio artist at Collingwood Yards (supported by City of Yarra), is the Chair of Artistic Directors for Blindside, and runs Co- Publishing, with Christine McFetridge.