Any of a group of colours from which all other colours can be obtained by mixing.
Fluidity in the context of colour is simple enough. We are taught in early education that Primary colours make other colours. Red and blue for magenta. Green and blue for cyan. Red and green for yellow. The pigments mix, fluid in the paint’s texture. And then become something else, but the original still exists within the reimagined.
Photographer Luke Shadbolt, writer Gopi Lev Dupain, Editor Chloé Brinklow and subjects (lovers) Lola Van and Ella Jane investigate fluidity in its many contexts; nature and colour, light, sexuality, gender, identity. There is no agenda, just exploration.
I don’t know myself in my entirety.
Throughout my life, I’ve been assigned countless projections by people with cruel and kind intentions alike. From my sexuality to my mixed cultural heritage, it’s been difficult to reconcile with the need to belong and the reality that I don’t. I’ve burdened myself with one dimensional categorisations in an attempt to relieve a pressure that didn’t seem to let up no matter how high I raised the bar for myself.
When I was younger, I was so worried that my varying experiences would dilute each other or somehow cancel themselves out but I know now that I am not fractured because my identity straddles several dimensions.
Fluidity when explored with integrity can serve as an acknowledgement of life’s inherent weirdness and mystery or it can be an avenue for destructive ambiguity and weakness. I think that we have all tried to gracelessly corral the indefinable within flimsy language or avoidance.
In my experience, the things in life that are ever-flowing are able to be so when moving among a structure of things that are immovable, affixed to truths that can’t be shifted by ego, circumstance or culture. My fascination lies with the relationship between fluidity and boundaries.
A river can only run through immovable riverbanks. From time to time, the banks erode and give way but there are always banks.
The body is the perfect example of fluidity existing within harder edges. My blood runs, cells regenerate, my weight fluctuates, my appearance will evolve as time passes but the things that keep this body held on earth are immovable; my heartbeat, gravity, electrical impulses upon which I have no control.
My sexual fluidity which ebbs in ever unexpected ways (through both desire and expression) has only been revealed to me since I made the choice to anchor my expectations of who I am in acceptance (of my queerness), patience (with my trauma) and curiosity (of myself as I emerge). In a culture too eager to get to the bottom line (and quickly!) I’ve had to make my peace with not having one.
Fluidity and structure are inseparable, co-creating every experience worth having. In order to relax and live safely within my body I had to come up against the immutable fact that it has needs I can’t fight. It has limits I have to work with and there is little to no fluidity within them. I need to sleep, breathe, eat, move.
To me, fluidity can’t exist without tremendous receptivity and acceptance. It lies in allowing the unfamiliar to permeate my understanding of the world and shifting my behaviour to reflect this.
Boundaries are about safety (as it exists outside of comfort or familiarity). Safe to be authentic, to be understood. I cannot truly be receptive when feeling unsafe which makes creating good, sustainable changes in my life an impossibility if there is a lack of boundaries. Changes that ultimately affect how I move through society as well as how I relate to my most private self.
In order for oppressive social hierarchies to stay in place, each of us must be cut off from our vulnerabilities. If a system is able to replace the natural instincts of our truthful, unfixed selves and replace them with harmful categorization, judgement and dishonest rigidity those same instincts turn outward and become destructive.
On a smaller scale, for me to thrive within my relationships, to fully embrace not only my own fluid self but to love and accept the evolving nature of my loved ones, my connections need to be based within boundaries and tender reciprocity that leaves me (and those around me) feeling safe to expose the vulnerabilities that are still unwelcome in our societal landscape.
In allowing myself to release the need for arbitrary definition, I am dissolving the constructs keeping me tethered to self-destruction and allowing the immovable truths to emerge. In this process I am challenged and often uncomfortable, but I am safe. There is no need for judgement or crises of identity.
When I take in the unknowable expanse of life ahead of us all, I find that there are very few spaces that aren’t liminal. Let us all gently float by each other in the glittering grey.
I don’t know myself in my entirety. I never will and I don’t think I’m meant to. What I am doing is letting myself travel among the fixed points I have found so far. Allowing the dead to dissolve and the alive to emerge.
I am both river and riverbank.
Photography, Creative and Art Direction: Luke Shadbolt
Words: Gopi Lev Dupain
Talent: Ella Jane & Lola Van Vorst
Editor: Chloé Brinklow