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Jupiter Orbiting - COVID reprise

A five minute excerpt of Jupiter Orbiting and a voiceover reflecting about isolation, dissociation and the beauty that lies within this reality

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My name is Joshua Pether and I am an experimental performance artist based on Whadjuk Noongar Country. My practice investigates the body, specifically my body, and the intersections of both my cultural heritage of disability, and indigeneity.

You are watching a short excerpt of performance I made in 2018 for the Next Wave festival. Jupiter Orbiting was a solo work that explored ideas around association and the isolation that comes with living in this reality. Strangely enough, this work was made a year before our whole world became a representation of isolation on a grand scale, where countries, continents and populations shut their doors, and we secreted ourselves away in our homes. The world now began to understand the meaning of isolation and the effects it has on us.

We are now two years on since we first closed ourselves off from the rest of the world. And it seems that a sense of normality post-Covid will eventually return. But isolation is a thing that can’t be left behind. And for some of us, this is the reality that we live with. Isolation has become both a physical and spiritual experience for me. Having lived with this reality for some time, its become somewhat of an old friend who I know will never leave me. It announced its arrival at my door one day, and ever since then it’s never left. We’ve grown to know each other intimately, and over the course of the years have developed a collegial relationship with each other.

This may sound odd given that the world is now had its taste of this experience on a macro and extreme level. Overall, it seems we can’t cope with this feeling, and overall it’s become quite negative. The rush towards a more palatable existence, where connection and social interaction between the humanity has become a craving so strong that we have been overwhelmed to the point of saturation.

So why would anyone want to know or live in isolation? I often wonder this myself and think of all the reasons why I should leave this friend and find another, but I can’t help coming
back again and again, and finding myself in the comfortable arms of this thing that feels natural and innate. My experience of isolation has allowed me to access points in the world that are not seen, but we have made a decision not to see them. I remember thinking that this gift I was given has allowed me to see the sky behind the clouds and to peel the skin of the reality we see in each other. An access point to the world before we had stuff, ideas, and places to be and things to do. It was just a place to breathe and to be.

I also think of the deliberate choice of living in one of most isolated parts of the world and how this has affected the work I’ve made. I know for a fact that Jupiter Orbiting would not have existed if I’d been anywhere but here on Whadjuk Noogar Country, the vast isolation, expansiveness and the environment becomes a continuing echo that permeates every living cell on this land. It is hard to deny its existence as you hit with it every day. And if you try to escape you’re met with the majesty of it all from the wild and turbulent winds, the intense shafts of light that resonate in their own orbit.

As I close this reflection, I think of probably one of the most poignant pieces of art written here that encapsulate isolation, it’s tragedy and beauty, all within the space of four minutes. The opening bars of the song become like a living monument to this unforgiving and harsh landscape, and somewhere in-between a tale of unrequited love, a road trip and the redemptive sound of the crazed preacher at the pulpit. Wide open ride embraces those who hear it with the undeniable beauty and devastation of isolation. I think of myself sometimes travelling the proverbial wide open road and how the landscape here, and indeed the horizon, seem to stretch for all eternity. And I am travelling with my friend isolation. Because we are forever connected but, ironically, never alone.


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