"For her stay at Rimbun Dahan, Dhiyanah will be extending on her investigation of the body’s relationship to water – how the sensation of swimming, floating, or moving underwater relates back to the act of remembering (or forgetting). Her project, ‘Swimming Pool,’ is a memoir-building process that combines visual art with writing, and will hopefully culminate into an art book in the future." (source)

I started working on Swimming Pool during my two-months' residency at Rimbun Dahan, where I utilized the site's studio and swimming pool, creating a ritual around swimming and art-making. After going for a swim, I would spend about an hour or so writing and sketching to document memories and sensations that were freshly coursing through my body. I would then bring these findings to the studio where I fleshed them out into a series of work, working primarily with paper and watercolors.

The space and time this residency provided allowed me to deepen the work I had already started, exploring body and water as symbolisms for longing and belonging. The total of the works spanned around 12-16 paintings. 

I consider 'Swimming Pool' to be an on-going project, with intention of producing an art book in the near future. Below are previews of some of the final pieces I produced during this residency. Parts of this series were featured on The Cerurove for Issue 2: Rise Together along with an interview.

The works in the series above are large-scale watercolor paintings that incorporate torn papers collaged onto the painting's surface to bring a three-dimensional, tactile element - imitating waves and waterscapes - into the piece. In between some of the torn papers are micropoetry. These works revolved around the sensation of remembering - the words and memories that return as the body submerges underwater.

The works in the series below are visual meditations on the act of swimming - the feeling of melting or merging with the movements of the water as one swims from one end of the pool to the other. I was reminded, too, of swimming in the ocean. In that body of water, one has to navigate the push and pull of forces larger than them. These works are about forgetting - the faceless figure in the water stripped of identifiers, reduced to bodily movements in the water.

As I worked, I kept having recurring thoughts on the sea's role in our peopled world, from news about refugees who were forced to run straight for the water in times of dire need. To jump ship and keep swimming with nothing but wild hope. 

This paper installation was made as a response to those thoughts. I painted a large ocean wave on two pieces of paper that had been torn in half and stitched together, creating a sort of spine in the middle. On this spine I embroidered the word, "Forgive me by the seaside," which acted as the first sentence to a poem I painted on a long, rolled up sheet of thin cartridge paper. The poem was a personal response to Theo Angelopoulos' 1991 film, The Suspended Step of the Stork, which explores borders as an irrational social construct. In it, there's a poem with the line, "Forget me by the seaside," which was also quoted in Qiu Miaojin's Notes from Montmartre (where I first found out about the film). 

This installation was set up and presented during the Open Studio that marked the end of my two-month residency.

In between the various works and experimentations I produced was this stand-alone A3 painting inspired by a dead tree that I could see from my studio and the moss-covered statues surrounding the site's swimming pool area.

2017 was a year of mourning for me, processing the death of my brother. I painted this portrait, thinking about the face I saw in a grave before it was filled up. The grief was still fresh and though this residency gave me the time to grow through the mourning, it also made me pause to acknowledge the undercurrents of that time. What was happening underneath, what needed to be understood as I moved on with life - this painting represented that. 


Watercolor-based paintings, some with torn paper collage and/or embroidery on paper.