Himali Singh Soin


how to startle the unbelieving

In 1850, just before telegraphy is standardised, the British Empire uses a clairvoyant girl from Calcutta as a porous channel through which to travel to the Arctic in search of Franklin and his two lost ships, Erebus and Terror. The wreck of Erebus and Terror were discovered in mid September 2014 and 2016 respectively.

how to startle the unbelieving is a poem produced from an erasure of the only archive left about a girl used by the British empire for her clairvoyance in the Bombay Monthly Times. The cables of distance and desire are tangled in the word. The periphery and the core become porous thresholds through her natural electricity passes. Disembodied, she may be an early cyborg. Authority no longer rests in the antipodes of sender and receiver, but in the agent of interpretation in between, in the medium.

I see a shipwrecked vessel.
I have found him; I see a vessel embedded in the ice.
I see a gentleman; 
he is not very tall;
he looks thoughtful; 
he has a telescope in his hand. 
The name of the ship I cannot see; she is too much embedded in the ice. 
I don’t know what to call it!
I see Sir J. Franklin again. 
How do you know it is him ? 
I am sure of it, I feel it is him. 
What is he doing? 
He is now sitting at a table in the cabin, writing. He looks deeply thoughtful. 
What is it, and whence does it arise? 
By what agency are these things produced? 
What is this? 
Can you explain it?
I have seen places and things I never saw before. 
What is this?


Himali Singh Soin works across text, performance and moving image. She utilizes metaphors from the natural environment to construct speculative cosmologies that manifest the non-linear entanglements between human and non-human life. Her poetic methodology explores myriad ways of knowing, from scientific to intuitional, indigenous and alchemical epistemologies.

Selected credits: Whitechapel Gallery, ICA, Serpentine Marathon and Park Nights, Art Licks, Art Night London, Block Universe at Open Space Contemporary (London); Kadist (San Francisco); the Dhaka Art Summit (Dhaka); Abrons Art Centre (NYC); Brick Bar (Riga); Serendipity Arts Festival (Goa); Khoj (New Delhi); OCA (Norway); Fabrika (Moscow); A Tale of a Tub (Rotterdam); Bucharest Art Week (Bucharest); Meet Factory (Prague) among others. Her writing appears regularly in Artforum, among others. She is the recipient of the 2019 Frieze Artist Award for her work on the poles and their uncanny bearing on the rest of the world.