Writing Sumayya Vally
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2020 ICON 200: Summer 2020

The Land Under My Fingernails

The soil and earth of a place is an archive of its pasts, presents and futures. It is a physical and material condensation of histories of movement, visions, rituals and politics of place, physically sedimented and printed in its surface. The earth of a place – its soul – is a generative place; a call to work. For example:

Is there anything more violent than separating bodies from the earth that they belong to – that had been so physiologically a part of them through centuries of breath, exploiting and contaminating this ground, and those who work it, and then allowing it to be breathed in again as toxic dust?

and anyway, you can’t blame the storytellers, because they did tell the story and they even put it on the internet in a number of different forms. and actually the truth didn’t just live in the story. any one of us could have sat on the ground and listened and known without being told. the thing was, we couldn’t afford to know, we were forced to clear the land so we could turn it into money because we really believed we couldn’t live without money. but how did we think we were going to live without land?**

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