This is an excerpt from a first cut of Artifact #3: Terra Nullis. Terra Nullis is the self-referential final peg of a three-part work that visualizes how personhood, family and intimacy are influenced by the state and the lineage of trauma within diasporic identity. This piece closes my Artifacts series, a trilogy exploring the matrilineal nature of the Anglophone Caribbean family from the pre-Independence period to the present. Artifacts uses my personal experiences with my own family as a vessel for interpreting aspects of post-coloniality such as restrictions to travel/movement by the state, varying attitudes towards queerness and mental health.
Employing speculative non-fiction to demonstrate agency in crafting models of communication and care within the present, Terra Nullis abandons nostalgic desires for the biological family structure in favour of alternative kinships. Terra Nullis is “used in international law to describe territory that may be acquired by a state’s occupation of it.” Here, the state refers that of being, one that is constantly being renegotiated with the entry/exit of new modalities with which we engage each other and subsequently reconstruct the self.