Entr’actes: Alternative Arrangements is the title of a new collaboration with visual artist Felicity Bristow. We hope the first of a series.
For this project our site of reference and reflection is the geological formation of Hutton’s Unconformity at Inchbonny, Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders.
The performance is part of a day long programme of artist led events in Jedburgh on November 19th 2017 as part of the wider ‘Mapping the Borders’ programme for the Being Human Festival .
‘We are not to look for nature in a quiescent state; matter itself must be in motion, and the scenes of life a continued or repeated series of agitations and events’
James Hutton, Theory of the Earth 1788
To start with Hutton’s Unconformity. There are various examples of unconformity sites across Scotland, Siccar Point, Berwickshire being perhaps the most well-known. It was in Jedburgh that James Hutton first saw the geological formation that was to lay the foundations of his ‘Theory of the Earth’ published in 1788. The theory was a cultural seismic shift as it proved that the earth was much older than previously calculated and from this emerged the concept we now refer to as deep time. It is this expansive scale of geological time which throws us as human beings into the shadows.
The Unconformity is the result of a major geological event when the land masses that became Scotland and England, collided and in so doing squeezed up and folded the rocks which had lain at the bottom of the Iapetus Sea. The Unconformity makes this event visible through the unusual vertical folding and stratification which does not correspond to our usual expectation for geological strata to be built up and laid down in horizontal layers.
It is unconforming also in that time is not present as a sequential and continuous narrative. The storyline is broken. The vertical folded rocks that were once mountains eroded and in the process erased 70 million years between themselves and the more recent horizontal sandstone strata. The geological story is revealed in its incompleteness. Time is seemingly not set in stone.
The geological structure is most clearly understood through the 1787 engraving by the Scottish merchant, artist and geologist John Clerk of Eldin.
The site today is much overgrown and almost invisible.The horse and carriages are replaced by cars, trucks and bikes travelling along the A68.
At its foot is the Jed Water, a flowing mix of timescapes as it contains both old and new water. See a previous post ‘Young Water/Old Water’ for more on this. https://clairepencak.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/young-water-old-water/
To attempt to approach the ongoing geological in- the -making process through artistic practice we have decided upon a durational studio performance that will take place over a 10 hour interval of time from the dark before dawn (7am) to the dark after dusk (5pm)
We are working with live compositional processes through movement, architecture and materials with two related but different score(s). The scores are based on the overarching geological process of deposition – erosion – deposition which we are interpreting through cycles of accumulation and dis-accumulation.
These are some of the processes and themes that have emerged so far and are shaping the preparation for the work.
patterning repetition series folding alternative arrangements
bone tissue muscle nerves skin
duration interval separation gap interruption inbetween(ness) entr’actes
horizontal – vertical – horizontal
deposition/ accumulation /growth & erosion/ dis-accumulation/decay
composition- decomposition -composition cycles
surface – depth /skin deep
archive, document, trace, memory
Let’s pause here with the final words from James Hutton’s ‘Theory of the Earth’.
‘The result, therefore of our present enquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning – no prospect of an end’
Theory of the Earth, 1788
Entr’actes: Alternative Arrangements
The Bakery Studio, Rear of 11A Exchange Street, Jedburgh
Sunday November 19th Sunrise (7.53am) – Sunset (15.57pm)
Note: The artists will work from 7.00am – 17.00pm to complete a ten hour performance duration.
Please note that the studio is on the second floor and reached via two sets of stairs.
Audiences are invited to enter the performance at any time and stay for as long as they wish as it evolves. We would encourage dropping by at different times throughout the day.
Please come warmly dressed, as the Bakery Studio is not centrally heated.
Hot drinks will be available
For full details of all the events go to https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/entractes-alternative-arrangements/
Felicity Bristow is a visual artist based in the Scottish Borders exploring the complexities of the ‘analogue book’ in abstract and developing the themes of ‘transformation’ and ‘abstraction’ of the book as an object and container. Felicity’s research is conducted and informed by using real-time scientific methods revealing ephemeral and ‘alternative truths’ about site. She is a member of the bound : unbound collective and in 2016 completed an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at Edinburgh College of Art. http://www.felicitybristow.com/
Claire Pençak is a choreographer and dancer living in the Scottish Borders. She has been developing an extended approach to her practice that situates choreographic processes both within and beyond the fields of dance, movement and performance. She is a member of In the Making Collective and has recently commenced a practice led PhD at Northumbria University.