In late spring I was commissioned by UNFIX Festival and The Barn Arts Centre in Banchory, Aberdeenshire to make a new performative work for the entirely digitally broadcast UNFIX Festival 2021.
UNFIX is a festival of live performance, dance, film, installation, workshop and debate that wants to unravel the knots in how we’re living. Climate change and ecology are at the core of UNFIX.
I am thrilled to have been awarded the inaugural UNFIX Residency at the Barn Arts Centre. During the residency, I developed a performance work for video titled Plummet, (another word for plumb bob).
Plummet premieres online Saturday June 26th, 2021 at 3pm London time.Tickets are available on a sliding scale here: tickets
We are plummeting toward self-annihilation climate crisis but lockdown has provided glimpses of less impactful action: quietude, regeneration, and mental and physical health benefits of the natural world.
The idea for Plummet sprang from my own experience of shielding and isolation from other people in the Highlands of Scotland over the past year and a half. This has mostly been spent in total sensory immersion in nature. Incremental changes in water, plants, animals, atmosphere, and most especially sound, highlighted gains made when humans drastically changed their behaviour, forced by Covid-19. I was without a usable studio for that time and was so fortunate to spend the first lockdown on a 13,000-acre, nearly human-less remote landscape. This wonderland of nature became my studio. This experience has formatively changed my practice and life. I have since relocated to rural Aberdeenshire and am surrounded by animals, birds, trees in a pastoral idyll.
To ensure the work inspired by my experience is less impactful upon the planet, most of the components will be recycled. Thousands of hollow glass musical icicles I made for a previous project Ausklingen (Fade Away) will be transformed into a massive plumb bob or plummet of symbolic melting of ice. Tethered to the plummet, my movement will cause the icicles to crash into each other, chiming a mighty roar tolling end times. Thousands of these glass icicles will swing on a threatening trajectory, as inescapable as the consequences of our behaviour. The harder I try to escape, the louder the repercussions.
I’m wearing another recycled component, the glass spherical helmet covered in black glass shards, Outlook, from my video my sister’s bones, the central work of my touring solo exhibition Forgiveness, initiated, commissioned, and supported by National Glass Centre, Sunderland. Some of the steel used in the construction of the plummet is recycled from one of my passing places films, the triptych drift, part of a larger long term project on making compelling environments in which to die.
The latter part of the video I've developed at the Barn features a soundscape of crowd-sourced sounds from nature from all over the world. Sound is critical to my practice and collaborative projects such as the all-glass instrument Le Sirenuse exploit the sonic potential of glass, with me blowing new glass instruments in the fire during performances, with live electronics, percussion, sound design, and auto wind instruments.
Great thanks to all who sent in audio files from the United States, Scotland, England, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, and Canada:
Judy Anderson, Anonymous, M Sebastian Araujo, Anne Benson, Karin Bille, Nic Boyes, Evy Cohen, Jerre Davidson,Jason Emerson. Hannah Gibson, Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network Gardening Group, Michele LaBarr-Haynes, Vicky Higginson, Karin Houben, Jay Howson, Linda Norris, Nikki Palmer, Lois Parker, Sue Parry, Sarah Paramor, Off The Plate Farm, Animal Sanctuary, Sibylle Peretti, Nicola Ransom, Laurie Rasmussen, Charlott Rodgers, Dara Schumaier, Malinda Seneviratne, Rachel Skene, Dorothy Sutherland, Sondra Tiberio, Cheryl Wilson Smith, Kai-Iris Wicht, Jeff Zimmer, The birds of the Petite Grange à la Perrière, and special thanks to Ru Freeman.
UNFIX is an arts festival based in Scotland, with partners in New York City, Tokyo and Bologna. We programme work concerned with ecological crisis, climate change, hyper-capitalism and all the things that might help to address them: love, care, imagination, joy and dissent.
Though everything has changed for humans in the last year, our desires and approach are still the same: to find out through art who the Anthropocene is asking us to be, and to seek ways of connecting as if audiences and artists deserve more than distraction and entertainment.
Pulling on the thread of climate change, we find the fabric of everything spooling out in front of us: How we treat each other, who gets included, where the waste goes, how the money gets divided, what about the animals, what about the weather, what about our souls. Are we happy yet? Do we even want to get there?