If We Cannot Belong And May Not Leave

by nick berger

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I composed this piece of music for the installation "If We Cannot Belong And May Not Leave" by Lynx Rainer and Noel'le Longhaul which opened at New Fruit in Portland, ME on October 16th 2016. The music is meant to be in service to the art. Outside of that context, I'm not exactly sure where it belongs. I am hoping that through it's release, it will find new places to sit.

Artists words about the installation:

This installation is a vigil -- a collective ritualization; a space for mourning the destroyed bodies of trans women and the meta-body of the planet.

Struggling towards solid ground from marginal positions, a stable home (literally and spiritually) has been elusive to us as trans women. Believing we belong to a lineage of resistant, adaptive, and agile spiritualities that have had their ability to root stolen from them, we seek to create a space to shape a temporary home for that lineage. Through the construction of a fragmented house, we are acknowledging the destruction of the history of feminized knowledges. The house is coming together because we are building a home for ourselves as trans witches; the house is falling apart because the witch hunts are alive and well. The need to maintain the flames of candles will necessitate the participation of members of the New Fruit collective/the local community to stand vigil
over the installation. This will constitute a performative and collective act of mourning and reverence.The labyrinth will also provide a route to the viewing of our drawings and paintings. Drawing and painting serve as daily devotional practices for us in our lives. A labyrinth will ensure that the path to viewing these images is not straightforward,and it will not follow the normal kinesthetic logic of a gallery space. This is intended to mirror and reference the fragmented and mapless experience we have had as trans women. At the center of these vortices is an effigy that will act as the stand-in for our bodies. The rest of the installation is meant to complicate the idea of belonging, and to provide a series of pathways for us to follow over and over, as prayers. The center of the installation is meant to serve as a thicket of those pathways, to confuse ecology with physiology, and to make an offering of ourselves. It is a confirmation of the twin fragility and power of our bodies. In weaving the figure with thorny brambles gathered from our current material home which is in an eviction battle - a place that we felt we momentarily belonged to - we materially reference the vines that feed us in the summer and the imagery of the church that has destroyed our ability to find a home in our genders and our spirits. The effigy acknowledges the struggle to remain in our bodies through the trauma inflicted upon them by our inherited worlds.

*Lynx Rainer makes paintings as part of a larger practice of devotion to a poetics of resistance. She was born to white settlers in what is now called western Massachusetts. Her art has its origins in her experience as a trans woman with a modicum of political awareness, and the rebel spirituality that is witchcraft. She is an ex-line cook and lives with severe chronic illness, performing acts of caring labor and political volunteerism in a collective house called the Milky Way.

*Born and once again residing in the hills of Western Massachusetts, Noel'le Longhaul holds a 2013 BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. After years of freight-train transience, DIY artmaking and stick-and-poke tattooing, she is now a self-taught, licensed tattooer, and has traveled the world over via invitation to ply that trade. As much a practicing witch as an artist, she speaks through a diversity of art mediums as a devotional practice, trying to use them to interrogate capital and colonialism while holding their antagonists in reverence.


released January 13, 2017

Composed by Nick Berger

Performed by Alyssa Kai and Nick Berger

Recorded and mixed at the Milky Way by Nick Berger and Alyssa Kai

October 2016




paper bee Montague, Massachusetts

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