Simon Faithfull’s coolly inquisitive, quietly intrepid, quixotically itinerant art subscribes to the belief that the journey is always more important than the destination. Travelling hopefully (and, as his name suggests, doggedly, unwaveringly, indefatigably), Faithfull’s projects often take the form of a journey; undertaken in the spirit of discovery, and rendered either as a realtime record or as a more extended travelogue. Traversing the globe from obscure corners of England to the extremes of the Arctic Circle or the South Pole, Faithfull moves, with a parallel freedom and dexterity, between disparate media, skilfully switching from ﬁlm and video to drawing or text-based commentary, to document, and better illuminate, whatever he encounters along the way. – Steven Bode
Simon Faithfull shows five silent works accompanied live by Heleen Van Haegenborgh (grand piano), Anna Vavilkina (organ) and Florian Tippe (bass clarinet)
Going Nowhere Trilogy – on the grand piano: Heleen Van Haegenborgh
The video works of the Going Nowhere Trilogy span 21 years in total but in each film the same figure is seen walking endlessly through a landscape – apparently searching for something or going somewhere. The first work asks the question: ‘Does the world exist, when i’m not there? In the last work that world seems to growing smaller by the minute.
Going Nowhere 1, 1995, 7:00 min
A figure walks away from the camera through a landscape of drifting snow and finally disappears slowly into the distance. The light changes with the passing clouds, birds flit by and it becomes apparent that the camera has been left on its own in an empty field. Going Nowhere 1 is an attempt to witness an absence – to check if the world still exists when I’m not there.
Going Nowhere 1.5, 2016, 9:00 min
Filmed from high up in the air, a tiny figure is seen walking around the perimeter of a small island, alone in a vast sea. As the tide rises the sandbank-island shrinks and the circles walked by the figure grow smaller and smaller. Eventually the rising waters erase the dry land and the figure has vanished into an empty sea and sky.
Going Nowhere 2, 2011, 5:00 min
This short, silent film presents a walk through a landscape at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea. A figure in jeans and shirt, walks purposefully away from the camera and steps laboriously through a landscape of fish, rocks and watery light. How he is able to walk ten meters beneath the surface of the sea, or where he is actually going are not clear, but he seems to have an objective or a path that he is following.
30Km, 2004, 32:00 min – on the organ: Anna Vavilkina
30Km presents a journey from a face to the edge of space. A circular image blinks into life and frames a close-up of someone seen from above. He seems to be adjusting something on the camera above his head and as he lets go the camera mysteriously drifts inexorably upwards. The figure becomes a red dot in a green field, the field becomes a shape in a patchwork pattern of southern England, and finally 32 minutes later the camera glimpses the curve of the Earth and the blackness of space. The film was created with a meteorological balloon, transmitter and mobile receiving station – the insistent sound track of the film is packets of GPS data that was transmitted with the video signal so that the team could track the device and better lock onto the video signal. The journey ended at 30km above the Earth when the balloon burst due to the lack of atmospheric pressure and everything was lost – the only thing recovered from this journey is the recording of this signal.
0º00 Navigation, 2008, video and super8, 55:00 min – on the bass clarinet: Florian Tippe
0º00 Navigation is quixotic and absurd quest in search of ‘nothing’. The film presents an obsessive journey across the landmass of England exactly following the Greenwich Meridian. Guided by GPS, the artist is first seen swimming out of the English Channel before climbing over, crawling under or wading through whatever obstacles he meets. Eventually the figure always seen from behind, reaches the North Sea where he again swims away into oblivion.
Simon Faithfull (b. 1966 in Oxfordshire, UK) studied at Central St Martins and then Reading University. He is a Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London. His work has been exhibited extensively around the world. His work has been described as an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object – to test its limits and report back from its extremities.
Recent projects include a journey across Africa tracing the Greenwich Meridian and the deliberate sinking of a ship to create an artificial reef. Recent solo exhibitions include Galerie Polaris (Paris), Kunstverein Springhornhof (Germany), Musée des Beaux-Arts (Calais), Fabrica, (Brighton, UK) and the British Film Institute (London). Recent group exhibitions include Asia Culture Centre (Gwanju, South Korea), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (Australia), de Cordova Museum (USA) and the CCCB (Barcelona, Spain).