Exhibition

We are plants, we are grass, we are Hackney Marshes

Opening: 28 Jun 2024, 18:00 - 20:00

28 Jun 2024 – 5 Jul 2024

Regular hours

Monday
Closed
Tuesday
10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday
10:00 – 18:00
Thursday
10:00 – 18:00
Friday
10:00 – 18:00
Saturday
10:00 – 18:00
Sunday
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Middlesex University

London
England, United Kingdom

Address

Travel Information

  • 143, 183, 326, 643, 653, 683, 113, 186, 324
  • Hendon Central Station
  • Hendon Station
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Immersive audio-visual installation that takes you on a journey of being landscape through the embodied eyes of filmmaker Dominique Rivoal and the sensing body of movement artist Claire Loussouarn.

About

Video of the installation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp_BOAk4Xos

The installation invites to slow down and attune our sensate bodies and felt sense to the incredible spectacle of nature that we constantly miss out on an everyday basis.

Hackney Marshes is the largest common land in London and has never been built upon. It is a wild oasis within urbanness which disrupts romantic portrayals of nature as separate and clean from modernity. Through Claire's attuned movement and Dominique's embodied framing, nature is de-glamourised and experienced directly with the senses and close to the bones shining its bleakness and immediacy with potency.

For the last five years since September 2018, the artists have been moving and filming in a specific spot of uncut grass behind the Lee Valley ice ring centre where a diversity of wild plants grow. They return every month experiencing seasonal and weather change, the life cycle of plants, park rangers' maintenance cut back of plant friends, the ice ring demolition and re-construction, birds and planes flying by, seasonal foragers, human passers-by and their canine companions. 

Claire moves spontaneously with the environment of Hackney Marshes often finding herself entangled and in relationship with the plants growing there. She never knows what her next step will be as she lets herself be moved by the landscape. Dominique relates with her camera attuning to Claire's movement, her own internal landscape and the space equally. She holds the camera in her hands and often doesn't look through the viewfinder trusting her animal body to find its own footing. Together they blur the separation between object and subject on screen. 

The four screens, their 360 placement in a square shape and the spatial soundscape aims to recreate the three dimensionality of this heightened state of awareness in landscape that both artists experience in each monthly encounter. 

The artists never planned to film for five years. Over time, their commitment to this tiny spot of land and process of returning has organically grown creating an affinity between humans and non-humans and dissipating clear distinctions between the two. As they get more intimate with the space and the work, the relationship deepens. Seasons repeat themselves with gifts of surprises and each new cycle brings fresh excitement. There is always more to see and be amazed about: 'The mugwort plants are so tall this year, they've turned into a forest! What will it be like next year?' Hackney Marshes keep calling them in so they keep coming back.

The installation presents two years of monthly recordings from March 2021 to February 2023. 

Note on the sound design

The installation is further enhanced by an enveloping three-dimensional audio design created by Cesar Salazar Portillo There are 5 speakers placed on the ceiling playing the ambient sound of Hackney Marshes as recorded by an Ambeo mic. There are four more speakers, one attached to each screen, playing specific sound in relation to what's visually happening on each specific screen or nearby. Foley effects have been created to emphasise certain actions taking place on screens. The documentation of the film doesn't give full justice to the sound design and its immersive effect. In the real installation we should be able to hear more clearly some of those foley effects and intentional sound design such as when Claire the movement artist rolls pieces of hollow dried stems or is scratching dried grass with her fingers on the ground or when the tractor is made to move from one speaker to the next to recreate spatial movement of its sound. 

Quotes from participants

'When you're lying on a cushion surrounded by screens at first you expect something exciting to happen, it took me quite a while for that expectation to dissolve and as soon as I stopped wanting to be entertained it felt I wasn't watching someone else performing but I was actually there myself. We couldn't see the camera it was as though there was no intermediary between us and Claire. It's almost as if we were out there in the marshes with her interacting with the plants and the grass. It was incredibly calming. And in the end, gradually I became more and more engaged to the point that the less she was doing the more I enjoyed it. Rather than watching her perform moving in the landscape, I enjoyed it as though she became part of the landscape, lying among the grass, rolling on the ground. Sometimes it looked as if she might be dead or asleep. I was astonished that it had come to the end because I was so involved in it. I felt I was there. It seemed shorter because time had kind of stopped meaning anything. It was a kind of ongoing, a wash of experience, an immersion in experience. That’s something very different to watching somebody perform when you are outside the experience watching them convey an experience, when you are only an audience member even if you can empathise. In this case it was different it was as if you were there with her, she was similarly being there. There is little opportunity in our culture to just be in that way in that blissful state. Normally we just walk through the landscape but don't fully experience it with our whole being as if we were among the plants, watching the bees, etc. There is something very joyful about that.' 

Sarah Kent, art critic (formerly at Time Out)

'The installation, captured so beautifully on film - Claire moves with the marshes, the seasons of life. She is woman in every sense of being. Moving through the changing terrain of life ; to be alive, still as death, both child and mother to her surroundings. to play boundlessly. To dance along the lines of madness, deep pleasure, quiet contemplation. By embodying all these realms she reflects how the earth is in these states all the time. A conduit of plant conversation, for us a joy to witness. I felt I experienced the installation with my body, moving with changing scenes to hold them through me and will hold what I felt for a long time to come.'

Bhavini Joshi, experimental filmmaker

Artists Bio

Dominique Rivoal is a Doctoral candidate developing a somatic filming practice, weaving together the interdisciplinary field of ‘Screendance’ (film and dance) with somatic movement practices with the objective of adapting and testing somatic strategies of self-awareness to encourage new ways of seeing and being with. 

www.dominiquerivoal.com 

@dominiquerivoal 

Claire Loussouarn is a movement artist, herbalist, filmmaker and anthropologist whose practice is deeply committed to unleash the feral potential of our bodies and expand our understanding of what it is to be human in dialogue with a landscape and its non-human beings. Hackney Marshes, this haven of ecological diversity in the heart of London, has been a fundamental partner in the development of her practice. Her first book How to Be Feral: Movement Practices to Re-wild your Body shares her journey, personal reflections and practices to reconnect with our wild nature, inside and outside. 

@howtobeferal

www.claireloussouarn.com

www.movingmeditation.co.uk 

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Dominique Rivoal

Claire Loussouarn

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