The fourth manifestation of A Crossing Bell took place at the Antwerp Art Weekend in May. A selection of bells bought from flea markets in exchanges with recent residents to various cities in Europe (Paris, Chania, Brighton, Bruxelles, Lisboa) were made available to gallery goers to ring and offer a prayer of safe passage. The struck bells were recorded. Also exhibiting in the show curated by Sam Watson were Jani Ruscica (FI) and Christian Jendreiko (DE).
After the original A Crossing Bell at the Estuary Festival in 2016 and a later iteration at the "What Has To Be Done" exhibition for the Beijing Today Art Museum in 2017, another adaptation of the project was developed as a contribution to one aspect of Tomoko Hojo's "Unfinished Descriptions" exhibition at the Hundred Years Gallery. Tomoko invited scores to respond to the undocumented material catalogued under "O14" for Yoko Ono's 1966 show at Indica. I thought a gentle version of "A Crossing Bell" could work here, shown in first two images with some shots of Tomoko's own work for context.
"THINGS" is a show produced by Tamara Projects which involves writers and artists responding to an object chosen for them by the curators; their response has to be formatted in the style of an eBay listing, conforming to that site's rules but otherwise open to approach. I chose to connect my object, an oil lamp, to my ongoing research into Krakatoa through an overwrought and hand-wringing account of a writer's rejections:
To hear Dalby’s voice on that winter’s London afternoon, to be lured into his tale, raised the hairs on the back of my neck, setting off a shiver that has only just subsided nine months later, sending me on a trail to discover more about Krakatoa, to understand the eruption not from today’s remote vantage but through a lens fashioned nearer his own time, hence the props: this lamp to light the books that piled the desk in the garden shed, the tight blue jacket with its missing button and rough material that rubbed a rash into my neck, the coils of rope on which I rested my feet, the tin of coal tar creosote I would open to suffuse the shed with scent, the music hall songs and shanties I played at first, later substituted by a sound effects score I composed to honour the sonority of Dalby’s memories, to honour the “weird groans and whistles …the loud rumblings [that] got louder, they seemed all round us, the gusts increased to such a hurricane as no man aboard had ever experienced … the winds seemed a solid mass, pushing everything before it and roaring like a huge steam engine, shrieking through the rigging like demons in torment.”
"Orang Alijeh / Mountain Ghost" is part of a developing project relating to the eruption of Krakatoa. Part of the "Velocity" installation, curated by Alex Cooper and Tim Hutchinson at "Everything Happens So Much" at London College of Communication, my contribution comprised an essay, Morse code flags and posters designed in response to the essay by Alex and Tim. More information.
"In Bocca Al Lupo", is another perspective on my project "In The Shadow of the Silent Mountain:" a new text from a trip to the summit of Monte Cervialto in 2016, writing from the album booklet describing a journey to the peak of Monte Polveracchio in 2014, and a rendition of a 2013 account of a wintery walk on Monte Accelica. This rendition 'musicalises' the rivers, snow and wolf prints by turning an audio recording into a score and the text into a lyric."In Bocca Al Lupo" was published by The Learned Pig as part of their Wolf Crossing editorial season.
"Into The Outside", the film made by myself and Chiara Caterina has had two more screenings, both times as contributions to two new group shows. It was shown as part of "Connecting Columns," an exhibition curated by Cathy Lane and Lisa Hall at the Srishti Outpost at Mill Hall, a Collateral Venue at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale from March 1st to March 10th, 2017.
It was also shown in the exhibition "Ego et Eco: Individualismo e Coscienza Ecologica" at Palazzo Delle Arti Napoli from 22nd of April til 29th of April, 2017. This time, the film was projected at epic scale in a darkened room in the gallery. The opening of this exhibition was scheduled to coincide with Earth Day and with the launch of Simone Ciglia's fascinating book "Il Campo Espanso."
"A Crossing Bell" was reworked for the "What Has To Be Done" group show at the Today Art Museum, Beijing. Rather than the Essex vernacular architecture-inspired original at the Estuary Festival, for the Today Art Museum in 2017, the work takes on another local meaning, this time using a temple bell sourced in Beijing with red painted wood and columns and cross-bars I remember from when I once visited the Lama / Yonge Temple.
“Ancient Chinese acoustics long ago recognised that there was sound beyond human hearing. Touching bells when sound had disappeared still yielded tactile perception of vibrations,” Don Ihde Listening And Voice.
“[T]he emotional power of the tocsin in such circumstances transcended that of any other source of information,” Alain Corbin Village Bells.
A Crossing Bell was an installation for the Estuary Festival 2016 Points of Departure exhibition. Originally commissioned as a response to the Gravesend-Tilbury foot ferry, the work was eventually located at the point where passengers are about to join the boat or have just arrived from it, the bell hanging in a structure designed to echo elements of Essex coastal architecture and constructed from planks that once were part of Southend Pier.
Photos: Benedict Johnson benedictjohnson.com
From the exhibition interpretation text: "Installed near the Tilbury ferry within a custom-built wooden shelter that offers views over the wide river, the engraved bell is there to be rung by passengers and festival-goers as they offer their prayers for a crossing (their own or someone else’s, a friend’s or a stranger’s, a crossing here at the Thames or one that lies further afield). The aspiration is that the bell transform the short journey on the openness of the swift-flowing river and suggest other crossings, other times and other places; its un-amplified peals finding their place amongst engine noise, the cries of white feathered gulls, voices and the soundings of the Thames itself".
The edited collection of essays Beyond Text? features Rupert Cox's and my short essay Air Pressure: A Sound Film, written as we were developing the work created from our experiences on the farm in the middle of Narita airport towards the exhbition. The book, with many intriguing contributions, also includes a DVD which has an early single-screen draft of our filmic response. It is great to see the front cover featuring a still from our film that was shot out over the Egg House roof to the perimeter wall beyond which the airport has been shut down by an electrical storm (that is giving the sky that mauve cast).
'Night Time', the film Chiara Caterina and I made during the Liminaria residency earlier this year - a film which is a prototype for 'Into The Outside' - was shown at an exhibition in the Museo degli Orologi da Torre in San Marco dei Cavoti, Southern Italy. The other artists from the residency were Hong-Kai Wang, Enrico Coniglio and Alejandro Cornejo Monitbeller.