(intransitive verb) to move along the path of a spiral or helix.
Spiral galaxies are named after the shape of their disks. They consist of gas, dust and newly forming stars. These all gather in spiral arms that spread outwards from the galaxy’s centre.
A measured walk, a circular pacing. The act of leaving a trace. The evidence is on your skirt and feet. A frozen moment of movement. Susan Sontag described all photographs as momento mori. This moment is gone. We anticipate the next.
Almost a meditative walk following the spiralling gas and dust of the galaxies. Name them. Invite the spiral galaxies – those that can be seen and those that cannot be seen from down here – into a cosmic dance. Expanding. Expanding. And disappearing. Disappearing into another helix.
Spiralling the sparkling ether onto the ground. Threading the white blood on the sky. Time. Time crawling along her feet and yet she walks and wants and stops and shows and draws and moves oooooooooooooooooon.
From the furthest exile
comes the land of snakes,
they reap the harvest with a dance
of language, death and thirst.
(‘Thirst’ Noelia Diaz Vicedo, Spirals: Genesis, London 2017)
(transitive verb) to cause something to spiral. If something spirals, it grows or moves in a spiral curve.
The spiral arms of a spiral galaxy could be the result of density waves travelling through the outer disk when a smaller galaxy combines with a larger galaxy and affects its structure.
A cylindrical spiral, a coil, a shape that can absorb shock, can store energy and then release it. The hand that is waiting, ready to receive that energy, looks tender, capable, patient.
Returning to the same point again and again. Observe the waves travelling. Their collision forms a mass of a black and white spiral –difficult to discern colours (if they exist)– around a new centre. Returning to the same point again and again until nothing is the same anymore. Constantlypassing. Constantly waiting. Constantly receiving. Constantly transmitting from one orbit to the next.
The wave of time bounces back her skin to the level of none. And again she starts. Crescendo. Finale. Da capo. All is none in one note.
If in these other times things might rise and evolving slowly only extend in order to fold back
arm in slow motion describing space between
exploring mass and emotion
gravitational sadness and intent
whilst also letting go so far these ships coming into view and constantly passing.
(‘As If’ Barbara Bridger, Spirals: As If, Coventry 2019)
In the centre of a spiral galaxy is a concentration of stars known as the bulge. This is made up of older dimmer stars and is thought to contain a black hole with a surrounding faint halo of stars configured in globular clusters that orbit the galactic core.
A circular mask. I feel trapped and claustrophobic just looking at you. Can you breathe? I wonder what is stuffed inside the netting, trapped against your face. The arc of clear skin above just makes it worse. Is the face behind the mask scratched or cut? How can you bear it?
Towards the black hole. Without hesitation. Without will power either. The stellar halo surrounding the black hole attracts your attention. You enter the magnetic field. There is no return. No escape. No one can escape. Swirling down the thick galactic centre. Then there is light.
Can’t you see? Swallow your tongue. You are suffocating- it is an act of love. You are rotating the earth, you alone.
and when she can’t breathe
from the rhythm of people’s steps
sucking in their little moments
she escapes to the repetitive sound of the waves
that remind of the big moments now forgotten
she stretches her fingers flicking the dust away
from anything that goes unnoticed
(‘Path 8’, Hari Marini, Spirals: Paths of Her, Broadstairs 2018)
Many spiral galaxies also have a bar like structure that extends from the central bulge. At the end of this bar there are spiral arms that are sites of ongoing star formation. Our Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy.
A fight for collaboration, a wrestle with the dynamic of a curve viewed from below, viewed against the sky. The act of making seen as a loop, a tense curve. Practice in process.
No sleep. Rotating around a fixed point. The spiral arms measure the distance between you and me. Barred spiral galaxies trapped our desires. Change rotation. Fail and fall and as you fall turn your face towards me.
The circle is perfection. No more to say. No right to question. The sky shall say.
The amount of you would be quite proportional to
the needs of the amount of all my potentials.
If I were to deal with amount at all,
as a term.
Because I don’t trust in measures at all.
Because I believe that the space and I
are still one
and the same.
(‘Ratio’, Ana Rodic, Spirals: Autoportet, Belgrade 2019)
Spiral galaxies evolve into elliptical galaxies as the spirals get older. An elliptical galaxy is a type of galaxy with an ellipsoidal shape and a smooth, nearly featureless image. Stars found inside elliptical galaxies are on average much older than stars found in spiral galaxies.
This elliptical spiral reminds me of the rings of Saturn, but I can smell cut oranges, I can taste them in my mouth and feel the juice running down my chin.
No sleep. Thick darkness. A sour smell touches your nostrils. Feeding old memories. Only elliptical language files memories. Parts go missing in the dense mist.
Music gives the sea a spin. Sound waves carry the weight of earth. Mouths wide open. Tongues twisted into the juice of time.
Small steps, fast, sweated. Steps one after the other. Dubious quality shoes. With the right heel broken. Steps with a broken heel. Steps above all.
(Eirini Margariti, ‘This love affair’, Spirals: Flamingo, Athens 2018)
Since they contain many hot young stars, spiral galaxies are some of the brightest galaxies in the universe.
Circles within spirals, a bowl of sun/light and some charcoal. Charcoal is a natural carbon and is one element of stardust. It is also part of the make up of the human body – an element that will remain when we’re gone.
Old stars with less light alternate with young bright stars. They all consist of dust. Grains of sand are spread in the universe. White lilies germinate in the sky. Sweet smell spirals around the stars. Blue lilies grow over night. No time dimension.
It is a matter of light. Light is what matters. The matter of light contained in circles- black spots. Emptiness. Am I dead?
that always reaches
of its possibilities.
(Beatriz Viol, ‘Tracks for Finding Home’, Spirals: Tracks for Finding Home, Barcelona 2018)
In SPIRALS, CIRCLES, GALAXIES, Barbara Bridger, Georgia Kalogeropoulou, Hari Marini and Noelia Diaz Vicedo (collaborating as PartSuspended) reflect on six stills from Spirals, a video-poem collaboration filmed in leftover spaces in London, Broadstairs, Barcelona, Belgrade, Coventry and Athens.
Hari Marini is a London-based performance maker, independent writer and founding member of PartSuspended group. Her writing, practice and research are focused on poetics of spaces, performative architectures and women’s writing.
Barbara Bridger taught Theatre and Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts between 1990 and 2010 and is currently an independent writer, director and dramaturg.
Noelia Diaz Vicedo is a poet, academic and translator. She combines university teaching with research on contemporary women’s poetry and gender studies.
Georgia Kalogeropoulou is a London based researcher, musician and performer. Her academic interests are centered around Psychoanalysis and the Philosophy of time.
PartSuspended (www.partsuspended.com) is a multidisciplinary dynamic platform co-founded by Hari Marini in 2006. PartSuspended fosters performances and collaborations between artists from a variety of disciplines such as performance, photography, poetry, video and music. Since 2013 PartSuspended has been engaged in the SPIRALS project: an ongoing collaborative and multidisciplinary project of international artists, that brings together poetry, performance and music in various cities, to create video poems and live performances.
Spirals (2013 – ongoing) is a poetic journey that crosses geographical borders and unites European female voices in an exchange of languages, cultures, personal narratives and modes of expression. Through the symbol of a spiral, the project explores thresholds, migration, path, nature, home and sense of belonging; the spiral acts as a sign of becoming, transforming and awareness.
Spirals: Turning Points (2020) is available here.