Malcolm Sen’s exposition of godhuli draws together wide-ranging descriptions of light and color—both natural and otherwise—to arrive at “an ethics of place and a metaphysics of possibility.” With my piece, I’ve aimed to mirror Sen’s approach, depicting the literal translation of godhuli (cow dust) as a point of departure for an illustration that plays with color, texture, and depth. Here godhuli blurs the distinctions between human and nonhuman entities, both foreground and background, reconstituting them as collections of highlights, midtones, and shadows.
This image depicts godhuli as a redistribution of matter and color, a re-visioning of movement and rest, in line with Alfred Russel Wallace’s description of dust as “matter in the wrong place.” Without such matter refracting and reflecting the sunshine, he writes, we would be without variations of color, clouds, or rain. Displacement is, in other words, a condition not only for optics but for life. From the footsteps of a herdsman and his cattle to the particles floating through the sky, these small bits of matter reanimate our conceptions of appearance, place, and possibility.