Between Monday and Wednesday I worked with an old friend and collaborator, Kate Rowles, whose work with her own family in the context of visual performance (primarily photo, video and AV installation) inspired K of E's initial scratch at BAC last September. We tried out some movement and writing exercises and by the end of the Wednesday we had the beginnings of something which, hopefully, will turn into a scratch piece in the future.
You can explore Kate's excellent work here.
Mum & Dad turned up on Thursday afternoon giving us a day and a half to pull the show together, which we did. Essentially it was a 10-minute performance lecture with Dad reciting poetry, singing a song, and dancing with Mum.
To offer an idea of the central concerns in the BAC show, we should note that Dad had been married before he married my Mum. I wanted to talk about how it was possible for him to recover from the disappointment of losing one woman by finding another. He didn't want to talk about it, or at least, not in any detailed terms. So in response we had to think of a way of Dad played out the notion of recovery or reorientation in the most general terms. It resulted in the following text, which I think is about Dad but which Mum thinks is about me:
Article 4. "The Wilderness. 1970"/-
He had been out in the wilderness for some time – too long – and dark was the night, cold was the ground, walking until morning and sleeping by day in the dark holler. On leaving civilization, he had imagined some sort of dominion over the animals of the forest. He had foreseen a land of plenty, or, at least, just enough. But by the end of January he conceded that he had been starving for weeks, or had been starving himself. Whilst once a civilised man, he now lacked every refinement he had prided himself on. He now longed for a good meal, a warm bed, and maybe a woman, if he could think of enough to say to trick one of them. His journal entries, growing infrequent, lapsed, and finally he began to tear out the pages to kindle his fires. When the journal was gone he begun with his hymn book, and at last his eyes rested on a familiar passage that his Father, a devout and abstemious man, had taught him many years before.
DAD sings "The Pilgrim Stranger".
That night he walked, as was his custom, but neglected his usual routes, which turned and turned about, listlessly, and instead he tended towards more or less straight lines that befitted a man with newly found sense of purpose.
By morning he is standing at the edge, and in the distance he sees, farmed lands, ordered hedgerows and dry stonewalls, and, squinting, he could see the smoke from chimneys, little houses dotted on the horizon.
He took out his old binoculars and surveyed the land, which looked splendid accordingly and he said to himself:
DAD: “Well, now, there I might live”…
And there he did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how he could let the years run off, wait the winters through and see the spring come in again.
NB. "The Pilgrim Stranger" is also called "There is a Land of Pleasure" and I found it on a website called "American Memory" run by the Smithsonian. You can listen to Warde Ford singing it here.
The last line of the text is Adapted from Thoreau, Walden, Ch2: "Where I lived and What I Lived For". I'll put a proper reference in soon.
Photos of the Show:
"Style is the answer to everything..."
Dad comes out of The Wilderness singing an old hymn "The Pilgrim Stranger"
Dad dances with Mum to "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" arranged by John Fahey & His Orchestra.
Response to Applause.
Photographs Kate Rowles.
1&2 Mum & Dad re-lay the tape that made up our set.
2-5: A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, each page made into a paper Aeroplanes and put into flight by my father in the Council Chamber, by the Ayes Door 30th January 2009.
NB. The Aeroplanes flew poorly. They were too heavy and nosedived. We were going to start the show with the aeroplanes but didn't. But I did something else with them at Carlisle (see post 28).