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When did we stop holding each other? An Archive of Touch

When did we stop holding each other?

I have been a proponent of hugs, for as long as I remember. With family, friends, loved ones, and even with those who I may not know very well, but feel connected to. The habit was probably learned early on in childhood, but physical touch remains a dominant characteristic of my love language, albeit in differing degrees.

Whether it is a simple locking of pinkies, a soft (or tight) squeezing of hands, a reassuring tap on the shoulder or further a warm engulfing embrace, a lingering kiss on the cheek. These physical actions act as sparks, transfers of energy. They have the ability to offer comfort, reassurance, and open up new dimensions of connection and care that were previously unexplored.

The codes of physical intimacy, vary l across cultures, social situations, and relationships. The pandemic has also deeply impacted the the extent of physical closeness that we engage in. There is also the conversation around consent, violation of space and unwanted touch. There is much to consider and ponder upon. It is the body that tells you, the awareness of safety or danger comes from your flesh and bones.

There are other forms of physical interaction, not always with people, but also with objects, spaces, forces of nature. Sliding into your bed, at the end of a long day and feeling the sheets engulfing your body. The wind, caressing your cheeks, offering respite from the sweltering heat.

We talk about developing new ways of ‘looking’, of ‘listening’ and ‘tasting’, drawing upon varied sensorial experiences to enhance the way we live and perceive. The conversation of physical touch, the organ of the skin remains on the sidelines for the most part. It’s something that has been on my mind for a long time. Perhaps because living in a big city, away from family, creates a slight void. It is only in the relative absence of those small moments of physical intimacy, that they become a preoccupation for the body and mind.

Here is a selection of images from art and life. It’s been collected over the last year. You could call it an archive of touch.

SHOR is slowly growing. Connecting with the senses, is one strong theme that has emerged through the course of our diverse and varied explorations. We find ourselves highlighting the auditory, visual, and occasionally the gustatory. We want to also consider the tactile and to encourage deeper connections with the world around and within.


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