piles and holes

As we follow the questions and understandings arising from our recent work – from our explorations of the wider connections and perspectives we might perform, through meetings with the material stuff of the things and places we find ourselves working with – we have increasingly come to recognise the importance that the phrase ‘piles and holes’ has been accumulating for Rosa and I, in our private discussions and processes. 

This simple pairing has established itself as a shorthand reference between us, for an evolving  and ambivalent collection of perceptions and possibilities, within both our conception and performance of the work. To the point that we are now, finally, forced to acknowledge it as a project and explorative way of thinking in its own right. And our most recent discussions – firstly around our ongoing work on the gallery project Divine matter currently open in Barcelona, and secondly as we begin to reconsider and plan for a second full-scale version of The sky was clearer in those days for performance next June – have increasingly revealed just how much our casual shorthand references to ‘piles and holes’ have come to imply for us.


At its simplest, the phrase begins to name an imagining and conceptual model of the processes of extraction and accumulation that shape our use and experience of the landscapes we have been trying to explore – as a naming of the simple proposition that every accumulation or construction, every gathered pile of material, however small or large (from a door key to an apartment block), inevitably reveals the volume of an equivalent hole (or group of holes) from where its constituents came… And vice versa.


What began as a playful understatement, of potentially spiralling complexities, has proved itself to be a functional meeting and anchor point for a number of related threads of thought. Allowing the expanding resource requirements embodied by electric vehicles, for example, and the similarly expanding copper and lithium mining operations we visited in Chile, to be tangibly connected in the same object and imagining – across borders, times, scales, and hierarchies. While also allowing us to root the works and experiences that emerge from those recognitions in real and direct engagements with the physical matter and actualities of things…


Having now acknowledged and re-designated a number of recent and ongoing projects as ‘piles and holes’, we will see where this simple understatement might lead us next…

untitled sketches, digitally modified found image sets, emerging from the project Divine matter – Mike Brookes 2021