#eye #eye








The Astro - The home

V O I D.

Nestled away, in the comfort of closed eyes,

pressing down on the sockets,
the palms of my hands kneed delicate skin.

Seeing stars, Seeing Planets,

Seeing Astroids, Seeing Hope.

Seeing - Me.

The essence of freedom from the subjugation of my race,

of my gender, of my sanity - of myself. One seeks an Astro as

instinct, to breathe is to seek.

A de-awareness not of the self, but of the performance

of the self. Wake up  Put on your skin Put on your gender

Put on your class Put in your thoughts Take out your self.

These are the processes in which one becomes a member

of society. Deemed fit and appropriate for public consumption.

Do not show us who you are, merely show us who we think you are.

That is all.

Play the role, embody the character. Hold the aspects of their being

close to you, but do not let them consume you. It is

inappropriate to empathise with the emotions of an individual

person, rather than their character. The state of status quo

must be maintained in the separation.

The separation of gender, the separation of race, the

separation of sanity, the separation of economy,

the separation of you from us,  the separation of you from yourself.

This difference, separation ,is the crux in determining who can

experience what, and how much of it. Your actual experiences,

do not determine what you are actually allowed to experience.

The personal experience is a side effect.

A side effect of the separation between the personal

and the character. A confusing enmeshment of

the self and the other, contained within one

body but separated by ideas of difference.

An Astro is the space in which we can create.

Within the void of nothingness and supposed emptiness,

one can open their eyes and choose to see a space built

from their own design. Not just a singular world adrift

in the seas of the universe, an Astro is in an interconnected web

of spaces - individual Astro’s tethered together

forming the veins of one.

The subconscious of the void, the interconnection of

selfhood and collectivism. Needing a space to deprogram, and

de-colonise, an astro asks us, to ask ourselves and each other;

are we really one individual world behind the eyes we decide to close, or are we the collection of every thought, emotion, experience, person and perception we have encountered.

Am I truely myself, or am I just another other?

Musician Kamasi Washington stated, “Ultimately, the world

is what the people who live in it make it. As we shape

the minds of the people that live in the world, we help

shape what that world will be at the same time”.1

Speaking on the power of sound and music, Kamasi highlights

the ideas of collectivism, teaching, learning and the power of the subconscious self, which are integral to the understanding

and usage of an Astro. The acknowledgement of ones partaking

in both the collective learnings and teachings of inequality, inequity,

pain and suffering, is a confusing and traumatic experience.

However, it creates opportunities for immense change,

as the character is abandoned, and the roles are forgotten.

Irrevocable and indisputable, the challenging of the status quo -

the killing of the character and the ending of the scene, not only

strengthens senses of community and collectivism, but forges

various individual Astro’s, leading to the formation of one collective Astro.

This occurs as a direct result of the immense pressures

placed specifically on Black, Indigenous, disabled,  Queer and Trans peoples,

As well as Peoples of colour, to maintain the mask of the character.

The cutting of oneself open to experience the freedom of

being seen from the inside by those on the out. An astro does not shield,

nor save. A refuge for those who are willing to expand the notions of

what and who the self is, to unlearn ingrained biases, and to

de- colonise themselves and the structures they live in.

Continually expanding, imploding and exploding, an Astro lives

and breaths. Existing in the voids of each of us, developing in the

shadows of our masks, the subconscious desire of the self - the actual self.

When the mask is dropped, after the stage light bulbs are long cold,

and the theatre seats hollow of life. The characters, once applauded

and loved, spat on and hated, lie remnant in the memories of

those gone... But what happens to that actor,

The one, who after, “END SCENE” was called, And the one,

who after the orders of, “CLEAR THE STAGE”, are shouted

Remained, unmasked.

When the mask is dropped, and the memories of lines and

scripts fade to nowhere and into nothingness... who remains?  

Beneath the blinding of stage lights, and within the

darkness of forgot nights, remains us all.

For we all play parts, that are forgotten, and create memories

which are erased. The algorithm of the world, formed through

the lives of the characters we play.

We learn: who to fear, who to judge - who to love, and who to hate.
However, we teach these things too. The world we inhabit,

and the status quo we maintain, passed down generation to generation.

The subconscious intergenerational trauma experienced by us

as a collective, further establishes questions of “what happens when

the mask falls off, and the character is forgotten?”.

when long standing structures of exploitation, inequity and

inequality, are eroded by values of: strength, justice, resilience and

courage - instability and chaos are seemingly insurmountable

and unavoidable.

We question not only ourselves, but those around us. New,

uncharted territories of possibility, freedom, and destitution

seem imminent. To be seen for who we really are, as opposed

to who we should be, desire to be, or hide from being -

is a daunting experience. To be hated, loved, celebrated or

rejected can break or form us... yet, we have been all of these

things before. Perhaps, even painfully more so, experiencing

the grief of these emotions as an isolated and characterised other.

However, when the Astro is perceived as a space, rather than space,

one is presented with an opportunity to experience themselves.

A refuge in which emotions and thoughts can be experienced freely,

they are not too large, they are not ‘too much’.

Perceiving the Astro as a space opposes notions of subjugation,

breaking the confines and pushing the edges till they bend to infinity.

A space in which one is welcomed to just be.

No longer a character, no longer a performance. Constructed in

the realm of nothingness - the void. How is anyone to be better than one,

or to have more value than another, when everything is nothing.

To be in nothingness, means you yourself, can be anything, everything

- or nothing. To be yourself and to drop the mask, moves an

astro from the realms of theory, into the realms of materiality.

The establishing of new spaces, the balancing of removal and

addition is the theoretical framework of an astro. The living of

those perceptions, the sharing of experiences between us, through:

writing, art, music and technology, is the grounded material establishment

of an astro. To experience the stillness of being within an astro.

Allowing for the experience of being a being, who is not

compartmentalised into subjugated categories creates

safety in ones: emotions, thoughts and experiences. To feel them,

see them and interact with them as they wish,

rather than how they should.

An Astro is a field in which people can be invited in, and leave freely.

The requirements of unmasking oneself through the processes of

learning and unlearning, de-colonising and de-programming,

establishes firm boundaries regarding access into an Astro.

One’s willingness to partake in the work, in establishing themselves

as whole, rather than simply in contrast to supposed nothingness -

is the choice of whether one will stay or leave an Astro.

Entering the void of an Astro, there is no backdrop to frame oneself

against. You cannot look better, or more superior, simply

because we are behind you. No, rather, you would appear

incomplete. Transparent, vague, and barely able to be formed.

When you incomplete in yourself outside of the self made

structures of comparison, difference and superiority, are held up

against nothing in the space of the void, with the possibility of

being anything, everything and nothing - chose to leave.

You did not want to relent your structures of comparison built on

relations of difference and superiority - you did not want to find yourself

or define yourself outside of Blackness, outside of Queerness,

As it is the only way, in which white supremacy and homophobia can exist.

To be no one, and to experience everything, you needed a shadow.

A shadow which was black and queer, and could be

something, could be everything and nothing.

Belief in the sun as evidence of white superiority, And shadows

as evidence in black inferiority, Disregards the power of the void,
As evidence of - The illumination of the dark, And the impossibility of

the light.

At 6 years old I was told I was a ‘crybaby’.
A person who clearly is too comfortable expressing emotions

about experiences which should be subjugated to the character.

But I am a baby, and babies do cry.  The 6 year old child inside the

body of a supposed adult, for a Black/Brown girl is never

a girl, but always a women.

Be strong, hold it in, you do not have a breaking point,

you will be okay.

I felt both confusion and jealousy for why it was okay for others to cry,

but not me. For them to cry in other places, with other people,

and to be comforted for it - to have others understand why.

I felt fear in the separation of self from what, where and who,

I knew were safe. I did not want to start school, I did not want to grow up

I wanted to cry forever in the hopes of creating a flood

of Godlike proportions. Washing away the experience of separation,

and the public shaming of experiencing the emotions of the personal

in the role of the character.

At 7 years old I waited to play, In the yard of dust and monkey bars.

I stood in line, for my time to cross, across the bars, from arm to arm.

To united my body, and my mind as one, To exist in the space,
Of the in-between - between log platform and log platform,

Between the self and the character. To exist in-between,
In the space of abyss, To close my eyes,
And feel my body and mind twist.

Not defined by gender, Not defined by race, No character to play,

I am in my place.

“You know if you are pretty when you are young that means you will

be ugly when you are old, right? That means you are going to be really

really ugly when you grow up.”


The twins from the Shining stare at me, Waiting in line behind,

I turn, I twist. Everything is amiss.

These two little white girls stare at me - us

They stare and stare, At the twins who are black and white and brown.

They wait for a response looking down at the ground (Us)

We do not respond, Because we don’t know how.

People say not to be upset, and to certainly not be offended.

Every compliment is still a compliment, they just didn’t mean it

‘that way’. But in actual fact, every compliment is an insult -

and every insult is still an insult, even if, ‘they didn’t mean it like that’.

It can never just be said that you are pretty, no - it must be said that

you are an outlier first. It is only after this is established, that the mean -

the status quo, can present you with the ‘compliment’ and assurance of your value. Even as an outlier.

“Where are you from?” “No, but like...where are you from?”

“Oh, so how long have you lived in Australia for?”

“Oh....(?), well you’re lucky, you are very beautiful!”

The initial “oh” with the always implicit ‘question mark’ looming overhead.

If you are an Australian and look like ‘that’, and I am an Australian

and look like this - then how can both facts be correct?

The compliment afterwards used like an eraser to page, sweeping

up all the tones of uncomfortableness and ignorance -

only to expose more.

“Well you are lucky, you’re beautiful”

is understood as, ‘well I’m lucky I find you visually satisfying,

because looking at you does not make me uncomfortable

in my whiteness. I can attain a certain pleasure out of the differences

I place on you. Contrasting you to both myself, as an average,

and every other perception of difference I have, creates you

(just standing there and existing) into the materialised

version of every theoretical ‘taboo’ I have knowledge about.”

These perceptions and understandings of the Black, Indigenous,

Queer  body - of “the outlier”, limits the amount of prescribed

value placed onto those people inhibiting them. Always framed against

the backdrop of whiteness, these paradoxes of understanding highlights

the spaces of an Astro as pivotal. Set against the backdrop of the void,

an Astro uproots all pre held convictions. There is no outlier and no

mean, there is no you and me - there is just being.

24 years.
Of wondering what it could be like. To be accepted completely,

Rather than as a moral act of service. To feel like I belonged,
With the people who surrounded me, rather than only with those I was expected to.  They said,
“16 is too young, you are only a kid - you don’t even know, what life is”

But what I did know, and what I still know -
Is that walls are always white. The status quo is always white.

The only way to be right is to be straight, cis and white.

I lay in hospital, I close my eyes.

Exist in Astros,
Of books, music, poetry and freedom. Cause I knew of places,

Which existed more like spaces. In which people like me,

Existed as nothing but free. I wanted to see,  I wanted to feel,
To have my eyes open.  But for that to be real, I would surely

be dead.

Because as I lay in that bed, in the materiality of the body,

And wishing to be dead.

You were my shadow, And I was yours.

You see me. I am vulnerable, I am embarrassed. I did not want

to be. Yet you were there,

Full, of uncomfortable stares.

Creating an Astro,

In which I existed. Not alone, not a shadow. You saw me,
And made sure I lived, So that I really existed.

Our experiences are valid, they are the average, and they do count.

We have futures outside of the structures we’ve been placed in.

We have emotions, thoughts and lives, which deserve to have space -

which deserve to be seen and experienced as an entirety.

Tessa Walker-Charles is a multi-disciplinary artist, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of New South Wales. Their practice is multi-disciplinary, spanning across the digital and physical, including performance, film, photography, written word art and painting. Tessa works to unravel and build new, de-colonial pathways forward, using their practice to critique and disrupt ideals of colonialism through acknowledging the complex and confusing entanglement of learnt belief structures, thought patterns, behaviours, desires and systems of colonisation which we have all been taught.