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Search to Belong

Installation, wearable sculpture, film, performance 

Lucky Dip Exhibition

God's House Tower

Town Quay, Southampton, SO14 2NY

15th October - 7th November 2021

‘Search to Belong’ is a new project by involving a series of wearable sculptures, performances, installations, and films, supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and ‘a space’ arts’ Lucky Dip Bursary scheme.

Following Olana’s personal experiences of settling in a foreign country, balancing parenthood with pursuing a ‘full-time’ career in the arts, and navigating a world that is at once market-oriented but also stimulated by her passion for community engagement, ‘Search to Belong’ reflects the multiplicity of identity and the never-ending pursuit for belonging. Exploring notions of the self and its connection with the body and others in the world, this work presents new perceptions by challenging audiences to accept the absurdity of the Other.

Viewers are invited to observe the story of two creatures of an unidentified nature - neither human nor animal, yet simultaneously both. Embodied in a human-like form with reptilian skin, and covered with scales from recycled beans bag balls, these creatures are ‘Other’ to the whole world but ‘Native’ to each other.

After finding each other in the reality of our world, they undergo a conventional wedding ceremony in a registry office and depart on a honeymoon to a distant land. Together, the creatures find anchoring points to a world that struggles to accommodate them. With the flow of time, the couple metamorphoses into a singular organic being.

The transformed being grown larger sheds its old plastic skin for a moss shell, and requires a different ecosystem to maintain it as a new ‘organon’. Back to searching for a new abode, the creature is again a nomad, searching the nooks and crannies of the world to find its peace in the vastness of nature.

Relationships between bodies are at the heart of the narrative of ‘Search to Belong’. This coming together suggests that love and compassion for our fellow creatures is the pathway to creating a ‘we-world’- an inclusive environment at the intersection of all systems, a realm in which everybody belongs. This pathway is like a hike in a mountain range. Climbing toward each peak, we are extending the physical and psychological limits of the body, moving away from the already explored environment below.

Withdrawing from what we know, we are actively in constant renewal, subverting the body until it is a formation, rather than a form. This constant process of formation is a vital condition of existence, the means of reaching or rather building the ‘we-world’ - “one must live to build one’s house, and not build one’s house to live in” (Bachelard, 1957).


Images Credit: Olana Light

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