'the quivering and lively nerve of the now' is an experimental filmic cento in three acts after Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s iconic Agua Viva. The film offers an argument for body fluidity and abjection in the face of oppression. A celebration of selfhood, desire, and lust, the work reveals a visceral reflection of living/creating the way Clarice Lispector writes. I created visual sequences that revel in abstract carnality to counter this moment of contemporary witch-hunting and politically-sanctioned misogyny. In aggregate, the film presents a poetic love letter to lusty living entangled with nature, consciousness, and temporality.
I first read Agua Viva in 2016, at an inflection point in my practice and in national politics. I felt seen and understood - her explosive internal combustion, her animal and abject approach to nature and selfhood. “She writes the way I draw,” I told everyone. This series picks up where my recent series Slipstream: Table of Contents leaves off, mediating literature through digital art. A single sentence from the book animates the film’s abstract narrative: “I am before, I am almost, I am never.” The film’s title, the quivering and lively nerve of the now, is based on a sentence fragment that resonated with that same ephemeral, uncontainable sentiment.
Throughout the film I read select sentences from Agua Viva to form an aural cento, a poetic collage of her words. The animation includes my graphite drawings and digital and vfx artworks I created. I am grateful to the Gazelli Art House and GAZELLiO residency for supporting this work through my residency in January 2023.
About Nancy Baker Cahill
Nancy Baker Cahill is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist whose hybrid practice focuses on systemic power, consciousness, and the human body. She creates research-based immersive experiences, video installations, and conceptual blockchain projects rooted in the history of drawing. Her monumental augmented reality (AR) artworks extend and subvert the lineage of land art, often highlighting the climate crisis, civics, and a desire for more equitable futures. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of 4th Wall, a free, AR public art platform exploring site interventions, resistance, and inclusive creative expression.
Her geolocated AR installations have been exhibited globally and have earned her profiles in the New York Times, Frieze Magazine, and The Art Newspaper, among other publications, and she was included in ARTnews’ list of 2021 'Deciders'. Her work has been exhibited internationally at museums and galleries, including Francisco Carolinum Linz, The Hermitage, The Buk-Seoul Museum of Art (SEMA), Kunsthalle Zürich, Honor Fraser Gallery, and Vellum LA. In 2022, she was one of two featured artists in the Luma Foundation's Elevation 1049 Biennial in Switzerland. Her work was featured in the Immersive Main Competition at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival and was exhibited on 90 screens in Times Square for the entire month of July 2022 as part of the Midnight Moments program.
Baker Cahill is an artist scholar alumnus of the Berggruen Institute, a 2021 resident at Oxy Arts’ ‘Encoding Futures’ focused on AR monuments, and a TEDx speaker. In 2021, she was awarded the Williams College Bicentennial Medal of Honor and received the C.O.L.A. Master Artist Fellowship. She is a 2022 LACMA Art and Tech Grant recipient and will be the January 2023 GAZELL.iO Resident Artist at Gazelli Art House in London.