\ Pearson/Brookes

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Carrying Rubén [exhibit]

Carrying Rubén [exhibit]

The traces of the carry and assemblege are now set-up and running within this open and developing public gallery space here at Azkuna Zentroa.

In other parts of the gallery are now also an accumulating mountain of the city’s rubbish – already about a tonne of it, diverted into the gallery from its usual route between collection to recycling (Belén Cueto and Rosa Casado) – and a 120m² living garden of invasive and locally illegal species of plant and animal (Kris Verdonck)…

The remains of the carry itself have now settled into a quarter of the space: the entire unedited footage from both journeys of Wednesday’s action here in Bilbao running on a pair of wall-mounted monitors, the equivalent footage from the original Cardiff carry in 2001 running on identical monitors on the opposite wall, and my table of timelines and documents – minus the machines and mixing eqipment I used, but otherwise as I finished with it on completion of my performance here – still standing in the middle of the floor between them…

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

…From a city scale public intervention to gallery proposal in just one day… These traces will be available here, along with those accumulating from the other works within this gallery programme, until the doors are finally closed this Saturday night June 4th…

 

Images: Brookes 2016

 

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Carrying Rubén

Carrying Rubén

As I write these notes – in the gallery space of the Azkuna Zentroa here in Bilbao – Salut Bueno, Nazario Díaz, Amai Fernández, Axier, Joel and Rubén Mateos Lima are preparing to help each other across the city centre, on foot, and without the aid of Rubén’s wheelchair.

We have already made this journey once today: from 11:00 this morning Salut, Nazario, Amai and Axier carried Rubén from Plaza Nueva to this gallery space, in a series of short journeys of precisely nine minutes duration – attempting to reach agreed locations within these allowed times, and being filmed by Joel and I as they walked. At each location, they then paused for a few minutes rest, and posed for a group polaroid, before moving on… In front of me, on the 12m tabletop I have now laid out in the centre of this vast 45m room, and which is providing the focal hub of this work and its performance, I have a series of nine polaroid snapshots and eight numbered video SD cards – already the only physical documentary remnants of that journey.

 

Carrying Rubén [performance still]

 

Carrying Rubén [performance still]

 

This evening, the rest of the group will all attempt to retrace that same journey exactly – across a city that, within the space of a few hours, has changed it’s nature. Cycle couriers Osvaldo Navia Canelo and Ricardo Flores Rojas will bring the video footage back to me here, within ten minutes of it’s making, out there… And here in this room, with a time delay equal to the time it takes for the videos to be filmed and then carried here, I will assemble possible views onto both journeys from the material available to me… That time delay will mean that the group will arrive here, carrying Rubén down and into this gallery space, some 30mins before the completion of my reconstruction of their journey – allowing us all to meet and watch the composite footage of their arrival together…

I am very much looking forawrd to this. It has already been a great day – from stepping out into the crowded city streets this morning, to seeing Rubén being carried in through the gathered media of the formal press launch of this festival on our arrival here to complete the first journey… A lot has happend in the fifteen years since Carrying Lyn back in 2001. That act, as we shaped and performed it for the first time, undoubtedly revealed possibilites that have informed much of my subsequent work. And revisiting this work here and now, in the cold light of those subsequent experiences – and with the commitment and open daily pragmatism that Rubén and his friends have brough to this task, within the central streets of their city today – has not only clarified, but also expanded, its intentions and proposal…

 

Images: phone shots – Brookes 2016

 

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reconsidering ‘Carrying Lyn’

reconsidering ‘Carrying Lyn’

I am currently in Bilbao, preparing Carrying Rubén – a commissioned reconsideration and re-enactment of the multi-site Pearson/Brookes work Carrying Lyn, that Mike Pearson and I conceived and performed in Cardiff back in 2001, as our first multi-site city work…

Almost exactly fifteen years later, next Wednesday May 25th, I’ll perform Carrying Rubén – with Rubén Mateos Lima, a local performer with advanced multiple sclerosis, and a small but committed group of his friends – within the central streets and Azkuna Zentroa Gallery space of Bilbao, as the opening performance of the city’s new exploratory site-specific art programme Prototipoak.

Following the structure of the original work, the group will carry Rubén across the centre of the city, videoing themselves as they go. They will make this journey twice: firstly in the middle of the working day, and then again that same evening – attempting to retrace their earlier journey exactly, across a city shifting in character as it passes from day to night.

Throughout their evening journey, cycle couriers will rush the video footage being shot out on the street back to the gallery space, where I will attempt to assemble and reveal the event, in real time, with a twenty-minute time delay, from the fragments of material that becomes available – incorporating material retained from their first journey, polaroids, maps, and a series of short recorded reflections on the contemporary city.

 

Carrying Rubén [press image]

 

Carrying Rubén has been commissioned as part of the gallery thread of the Prototipoak biennial. The large subterranean gallery space has been curated by Rosa Casado to function as a porous informal hub space within Azkuna Zentroal, from where five works will attempt to open a series of specifically framed views out onto aspects of the landscape and use of the city around it.

The other four works within this gallery programme have been commissioned from artists Kris Verdonck (Belgium), Graeme Miller (UK), Belén Cueto (Spain) and naturalist and sound recordist Carlos de Hita (Spain)… The five of us have been working with Rosa over the past six months to shape specific new works from the projects she selected, all of which have had only one previous manifestation.

And this week we are working around each other. And will be accumulating fragments and traces of our actions within the public gallery space as we go…

 

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iliad [compressed]

iliad [compressed]

With the slightly refreshed perspective provided by a few months of hindsight, I have finally had a little time to start sorting through some of the documentation gathered during our epic ILIAD project – our durational verbatim performance of Christopher Logue’s poetic text War Music, and mine and Mike Pearson’s third large-scale collaboration with National Theatre Wales.

Specifically, over the past couple of weeks, I have been exploring the fixed camera ‘surveillance’ footage recorded during our first ever all-day marathon performance of the full four-part work. This footage recorded multiple single-shot wide-angle views onto the room of ILIAD, as it was performed on the day of Saturday 26th September 2015 – monitoring the hundreds of people, white plastic garden chairs, used car tyres, assorted pieces of timber and rope, and hours of performed and projected material, that shaped the room that day.

To begin to fix some manageably compressed visual trace of that place, cycling through the relentless views provided by those four cameras, I have compiled a complete x20 speed time-laspe record of the physical movements and spatial developments of the work across the full duration of that day-long event.

A playful and voiceless reminder of the physical journey, for all those who were there…

A very partial but hopefully engaging taster for those who were not…

 

 

ILIAD – Ffwrnes, Llanelli, 26th September 2015

 

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in the beginning…

in the beginning…

Today sees the public launch of ILIAD – our new large-scale collaboration with National Theatre Wales. The project is our third work for NTW, since the company’s inauguration. It continues our attempts to reactivate classic and historic narrative texts in contemporary Wales, as reflective or resonant situations in the present. And will hopefully push forward some of the propositions we initiated across both The Persian, which we located within the landscape of a Ministry of Defence training range in the Brecon Beacons for NTW’s inaugural season of 2010, and our most recent collaboration Coriolan/us, commissioned and realised in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and London 2012.

Over the coming months Mike Pearson and I will be shaping our ILIAD. It’s a project that will be defined by our durational attempts to stage Christopher Logue’s epic poem War Music – a striking poetic reimagining, that he worked on for over forty years, of the main events in Homer’s account of the last years of the Trojan War.

Logue’s text unfolds across five separate books, which he published between 1981 and 2005. And we plan to perform it verbatim and in its entirety. Initially as a series of separate and consecutive episodes, then followed by two extraordinary omnibus performances of the entire work – the first all day, and the second overnight.

We have never worked directly with the text of a poem in this way before. And importantly, this poem has never before been staged in its entirety. But we will, inevitably, find out exactly what sort of event and work this massive task enables and adds up to.

To begin, here is a copy of the first short video ‘taster’ we made to send out earlier this morning. It combines footage shot on the coast next to Llanelli, where we will perform the work, with a couple of lines from Logue’s own preamble for his text, that we have drawn out as a working subtitle for the project as whole…

 

 

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screens and headphones

screens and headphones

Giving myself a little time and distance to reflect on the realities of our run of Coriolan/us last month, I have been spending some of my days slowly reviewing and combining the continuous camera and headphone feeds that we generated and broadcast live within the work – and which were captured and recorded on the evening of our penultimate performance.

Revisiting the details of these mixes, as they formed and unfolded in real time, I have been consciously avoiding the temptation to be drawn to any of the additional images or sounds – or even colours – of the event of that evening. Just focusing instead, as I layer these various mediated threads back together, on those that we intended within the live action itself – and which we met there, via the two large black and white projections and our personal headsets. Trying simply to reconstruct the specific media window that we had opened onto the things that were happening amongst and around us – without any attempt to represent the place and wider activity of the work in its actuality, or our experience of it.

As a real time record, that often not-so-simple act of reconstruction seems to have left me with something as direct as it is revealing – detailing many of our choices and their consequences, if only across the period of one single complete live performance. And while I made it purely as a personal reference document, here are a few low resolution clips – fragments of scenes lifted from the continuous flow of that whole. Small reminders for those who were there. A very partial taster for those who were not…

 

 

Coriolan/us  – Hangar 858, St Athan, 17th August 2012.

 

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an emptied place

an emptied place

Before more detailed traces and remnants of our Coriolan/us project begin to gather, I thought that I would mark its completion with a quick camera phone image, snapped across that portion of hangar 858 temporarily designated ‘rome’, a few minutes after being vacated by the 350 of us who had populated it for the duration of our final performance last Saturday.

 

hangar 858 chairs

 

After Coriolan/us – Hangar 858, St Athan, 22:00, 18th August 2012.

 

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standing still in cities

standing still in cities

Here are three short fragments of video I have been revisiting – from CCTV surveillance footage recorded by South Wales Police during work that Mike Pearson, Ed Thomas and I were doing together in Cardiff, back in 2002 – and posted simply on the assumption that when something comes into focus enough for me to dig it out of the archive and take another look at it, it probably has something to do with what I’m currently thinking about.

The police had told us that, from the point of view of their surveillance cameras, the most conspicuous thing we could do in the public space of the city centre was to stand still for too long…

 

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…standing still for us in this selection are Russell Gomer, Richard Harrington, and Richard Lynch.

 

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twenty five thousand words, spoken one at a time

twenty five thousand words, spoken one at a time

A day in Cardiff. Mike Pearson and I met a cast of fourteen actors, with colleagues from the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre Wales, for an open cold reading of the full unedited text of Coriolanus, amongst an informal gathering within the public space of the Senedd in Caridff Bay. Culminating, as the building closed its doors for the day, out in the last of the afternoon sun, on the building’s steps.

My sincerest thanks to everyone involved. Being able to meet the text, animated so directly, in public space, was even more useful than I had hoped.

 

Senedd reading #1

Senedd reading #2

 

The generous readers were: Simon Armstrong, Patrick Brennan, Alex Clatworthy, Tomos Eames, Richard Elis, Roger Evans, Bradley Freegard, Nia Gwynne, Derek Hutchinson, Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, Richard Lynch, Nichola McAuliffe, Steffan Rhodri and David Sibley.

 

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enactment + autopsy

enactment + autopsy

THE ASSASSINATION OF LLWYD AP IWAN BY THE OUTLAWS WILSON AND EVANS

 

A couple of months ago, picking up threads from our recent conversations, Mike and I proposed a performance event sustained by the attempt to realise a screenplay live, visibly and with specifically limited resources, within a crowded room. In collaboration with nine post-graduate performance students from Aberystwyth University, we proposed to readdress an unmade screenplay from the Brith Gof archive.

The screenplay, developed by the late Cliff McLucas in 1993, describes a television film narrating the shooting of Llwyd ap Iwan by two outlaws at Nant-y-Pysgod in the foothills of the Andes in 1909, within the context of Welsh emigration to Patagonia from 1865, and drawing on elements from the performance work Patagonia created by Brith Gof in 1992. McLucas’s script combines a complete storyboard of 228 frames, with unfinished texts, soundtrack details, instructions to actors and information on camera movements – and unfolds around the making of a silent film.

The script was never filmed.

On the evening of May 20th 2011, as the culmination of a month long exploration, we made our final attempt to realise the visuals and soundtrack detailed within the script, as faithfully as possible, frame for frame, live and in real time, amongst a crowd of spectators – armed only with four live cameras, an old analogue vision mixer, found and drawn images, printed texts, a selection of objects and models, six live microphones, a loop station guitar peddle, a handful of acoustic instruments, and some fancy dress.

Here is an unedited inline recording of the on-screen material generated in that attempt:

 

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Realised by Holly Dacre-Davis, Melissa Donaldson, Karoline Grushka, Dafydd Hall Williams, Alec Hughes, Lisa Morris, Tilly Phillips, Fraser Stevens and Nik Wakefield; in collaboration with Mike Brookes and Mike Pearson.