Pointed Arrow, 2009. Process photo.
Photograph: Pointed Arrow Performance,
Courtesy of Daniel Ingram-Brown.
Journeys in Live Art
Compiler and Writer: David Overend
A Journey Through the Archive, 1979-2012
Wrights & Sites
An interview with Kieran HurleyIce And Sapphire Conjure Flame, by Nic Green Launching Community Spirit, by David Overend
This Study Room Guide  is concerned with journeys as an emerging trend in LiveArt.While 'site-specific' performance has become an established model over the last three decades, there is now a growing interest in work that moves away from, towards and between sites (see Wilkie, 2012). This ‘turn’ to travel might be understood as a response to globalisation, the development of communication technologies, and an unprecedented connectivity across boundaries. As Nicolas Bourriaud (2009) suggests, in an increasingly globalised world, movement through time and space become a necessary response to a particular phase of modernity. In this changing social, political and economic environment, ‘the immigrant, the exile, the tourist, and the urban wanderer are the dominant figures of contemporary culture’ .
Translation: Ayşe Draz
A significant number of artists, practitioners and companies are currently incorporating travel into their work and using journeys in a variety of different ways. These include Wrights & Sites and its individual members, Lone Twin, Forced Entertainment, Nic Green, Kieran Hurley and Pointed Arrow. There are many more, but in this short list an apparent contradiction begins to emerge: a Western (more specifically British) focus on practices with an inherently global outlook. This Guide is therefore interested in roots as well as routes; acknowledging the geographical, cultural and political context from which these ideas and practices develop. Alongside these examples, therefore, the Guide also engages with the work of artists such as Francis Alÿs (Belgium/Mexico), Oreet Ashery (Israel/UK) and Fernando Arias (Columbia/UK), who have worked across international borders.
Overall, this collection of commentaries, essays and interviews is intended as a resource for students, researchers, artists and audiences who are interested in exploring this rich area of Live Art. As such, it avoids extensive theoretical analysis in favour of pointing readers in useful directions. Nonetheless, the theoretical dimension is there for those who care to look for it. Engaging directlywith key performances and artworks, such as Kieran Hurley’s Hitch and Lone Twin’s The(Boat(Project, the Guide hints at several emerging themes in much of this practice, including community, political agency and mobilised concepts of home. In this work, journeys are encoded into the moment of performance as new configurations emerge that redefine the contemporary artistic landscape; moving through it rather than located within it.
The first section introduces and reflects on a number of texts available in the Live Art Development Agency Study Room, including books, guides, DVDs and articles. A narrative emerges that takes us from the solitary walks of Richard Long, through the walking games of Wrights & Sites and Phil Smith, to the celebratory communal voyages of Lone Twin and Pointed Arrow. These journeys take place in cities and countryside, individually and communally, and over minutes and months. They reflect the diversity of journey based practice but they share a similar enquiry into the politically progressive possibilities of moving on.
The second section offers extended encounters with the work of Kieran Hurley, Nic Green and Lone Twin. Hurley’s performance, Hitch, which toured the UK in 2012, recounts the young activist theatre maker’s hitchhike to the Italian town of L'Aquila in the summer of 2009 to protest at the G8 summit. An interview with Hurley, conducted in London in 2012, gives an insight into the political rationale for the journey, and his experiences of translating this personal journey into a public performance. This is followed by Nic Green’s poetic evocation of a series of journeys through Scotland, Ireland and India. Green’s contribution offers a reflection on her encounters with people and the natural environment; journeys that often result in the genesis of new performance projects. A personal encounter is then recounted with Lone Twin’s The Boat Project. Launched in Emsworth, Hampshire, in May 2012, Community Spirit is a sea faring vessel constructed from hundreds of donated wooden objects. The boat’s maiden voyage visited various ports along the south coast of Britain, before moving inland to Milton Keynes, and it is now available as a public resource for sailing and arts activities.
Finally, a bibliography is provided to assist further study. This list is a compilation of books, articles and other texts that engage with the use of, and response to, journeys in Live Art. This is an emerging body of practice that will continue to develop but this list offers a snapshot of where we are at the end of 2012. Throughout the Guide, all references to publications and recordings that can be found on the Study Room shelves include a number in square brackets indicating its location. These begin with P for printed material and D for DVDs. Beyond this document, Making Routes exists as a network and online resource for researchers and practitioners interested in the relationship between performance and journeys. This peer led group organises regular events and gathers together a range of relevant publications, artworks, individuals and organisations. If the practice and commentary presented here ignite your interest then please visit the website and join the network.
David Overend, 2012
A Journey Through the Archive, 1979-2012
Live Art might be understood as an inherently journey based artform. Fiona Wilkie (2012) suggests that performance ‘is fundamentally about the encoding of movement’ , particularly in work that sets out to explore its relationship to a specific site. Whether through literal movement or the movement of ideas, live performance frequently employs mobilisation as a key strategy. Emerging in forms of Live Art is a loose collection of artistic practices that is ‘constantly moving on, shifting and adapting to its environment’ . This preoccupation with moving and travelling has revealed itself in the ease with which many of the items in the Live Art Development Agency's Study Room collection can be connected to the central theme of journeys. Assembling this list therefore presented a challenge as thousands of texts contained in the archive vied for a place. As a result, this section does not attempt a comprehensive guide to the vast range of DVDs, books and articles in the Study Room. Rather, the aim is to present a small but varied sample of journey based Live Art; enough to tell a story and suggest an evolution of concerns over a significant period of time.
Richard Long is the solitary male walker, forging a path through the landscape and documenting these journeys for posterity. Long's walks include 'Mud Walk' (1987), a walk from the mouth of the River Avon to a source of the River Mersey, during which handfuls of tidal mud from the Avon were thrown into the Rivers Thames, Severn, Trent and Mersey; and 'Spring Walk' (1991), documented through a list of features of the landscape with distances from the starting point, such as frogspawn at eighteen miles and a butterfly at eighty five miles. In Selected Walks, Long records his solo expeditions through sparsely poetic texts that evoke the paths and 'rules' from which these journeys emerge. Through this litany of walks, a tension reveals itself between the fixity of the texts and the movement of the walks. The reader is notably removed from the moments when Long made his journeys.
Richard Long, A Line Made by Walking, 1967. Conceptual Photography.
Photography: Richard Long, via richarlong.org
Many of Forced Entertainment's performances over the last three decades have used journeys in some way. From guided bus tours to post apocalyptic pursuits, a number of different tactics have been used to take their audience on a journey, or to create a journey in the performance space. The performances represented here indicate a constant reinvention of the company’s creative approach. Nights in This City (1995) follows an impulse to move outside the theatre space into Sheffield the city that informed so much of their earlier work. For The Travels (2002), the company went on their own journeys, travelling the length and breadth of Britain and narrating their experiences in performance. Finally, Void Story (2009) takes the form of a live radio drama with projected photo animations telling the story of a couple’s nightmare journey through a bleak imagined landscape.
Nights in This City (1995, 1997)
In 1995, Forced Entertainment took their audience on a journey. In Nights in this City, the company created a bus tour around their home town of Sheffield. In 1997, they recreated the tour in Rotterdam, ‘writing over' the city with stories, lies and dreams .This mischievous coach tour 'avoided facts in search of a different truth’ .The guide, played by Richard Lowdon, presented an alternative version of these cities as the audience travelled through the urban landscape:
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Rome... this city is known to me for three things C the beer, the historical buildings and something else... just there, behind these buildings, on the skyline you might just catch a glimpse of the leaning tower of Pisa... and those of you who’ve been to Venice before will recognise the smell...
At the beginning of the tour, the guide confessed, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s fair to warn you that I have been drinking and I’ve never been that lucky’, and later, ‘geography’s never exactly been my strong point’ . The unreliability of the tour was established from the start, and as the tour progressed the city changed from Rome to Berlin to Paris C a city of buildings named after cleaning products, bolting horses, wishes and ghosts.
The Travels (2002)
Taking a different approach, for The Travels, members of the company took to the roads of Britain, seeking out a list of places 'that seem directly or indirectly to promise adventure, or at least metaphor and allegory' . Hope Street, Love Street, England Avenue, Hell Lane, Story Gardens... an itinerary created by chance, throwing up awkward routes and unexpected encounters. The resulting performance takes the form of a minimalist recounting of the events and encounters that the six performers experienced on their travels. The performers sit at trestle tables with visible scripts and only an overhead projector to illustrate their adventures. What starts off as a playful assignment soon leads to risk and uncertainty. Claire Marshall draws many of the shortest straws:
There were five DEAD LANES on the list of streets and I got three of them, as well as more than my fair share of Hell Lanes, Hades Lanes and Dagger Lanes. Most of these places are in deep countryside as if hell and death were best kept as far away from where people congregate. 
Often a frustration emerges that what the street names promise is not delivered. There are no lovers on Love Street; John Rowley is spat at on Universal Road. Many of these experiences are dictated by chance and exploration, as when Cathy Naden finds herself lost in a theme park. Elsewhere, events are instigated by the performers: Marshall sets herself the task of listing all the types of drunk that she has been on Bacchus Road; Jerry Killick lists all his weak points after visiting Achilles Street.
Like Long's book, The(Travels creates a discrepancy between a series of journeys that took place in the past, and the narration of those journeys in the here and now of live performance. For Alex Mermikedes (2010) , this creates a 'double vision' as the simplicity of the stage aesthetic conjures up 'the details, atmosphere and emotional engagement with events that exist only in our imaginations' . Our only way of accessing the worlds that are created is through the performers, and this gives them a strange and otherworldly quality. The Travels achieves this effect by layering the dynamic, loaded world of the journeys onto the still, minimal world of the stage.
Void Story (2009)
Void Story is a fictional journey through what appears to be a post apocalyptic England. The performance is a live radio drama with the performers seated at tables in front of a projection screen showing part illustrated, photographic images of the story. Sound effects of gunfire, phone calls and rainfall are created by the performers who leaf through the script putting on all the voices of the characters. Again, this is a performance about journeys that takes place in a theatre, but this time the journey is entirely fictional.
Forced Entertainment, Void Story, 2009.
One of the pictures shown during the play through the projector.
Visual: Tim Etchhells and Vlatka Horvart, viaforcedentertainment.com .
In just one day, the couple in the story are (amongst other terrible things) evicted, shot at, plunged into a subterranean tunnel system, chased by maniacs, locked up in refrigerated transport, kidnapped, run over, chased by dogs and other wildlife and left to die in the wilderness. The effect is a bombardment of bad fortune that comments wryly on the dangers and injustices that define contemporary urban life, and which will only get worse. Curiously, however, Void Story attains optimism through its relentless negativity. Whatever this couple endure throughout their enforced, nightmare journey, surely things will never get that bad?
Wrights & Sites formed in Exeter in 1997 as a collection of performance makers, or ‘wrights’, interested in exploring the relationship between their practice and the places that they encountered. After a series of early site-based projects including The Quay Thing (Exeter Quayside, 1998), the group and its individual members soon turned their attention to the ways that these locations were already performative. The group continues to make work that engages with various sites and responds to notions of space and place, from towns and cities to forests and islands. Frequently, their work involves journeys through and between these places.
Experimenting with various strategies for moving through their hometown, An Exeter Mis-Guide  offers a toolbox of games, rules and instructions for exploring the urban environment on foot, aiming to provoke the city to 'perform itself’ . A Mis-Guide to Anywhere  extended the original concept of mis-guides so that anyone, anywhere in the world, could engage in disrupted pedestrian activity. This short booklet remains a widely used, influential resource for drifters and wanderers seeking alternative ways to experience urban life. Included in its illustrated pages are a series of mis-guide suggestions including ‘We Apologise for any Inconvenience…’, inviting the walker to 'consider the roadworks as a free open air exhibition of earthworks and archaeological revelations' ; and ‘The Exhibition-ist’, which suggests ways to 'liven up your visit' to the frequently 'static, silent, passive places' of art galleries and museums . At the heart of these exploratory drifts is a playful subversion of the everyday what Phil Smith calls ‘the quotidian re-making of space’ .
While A Mis-Guide to Anywhere offers an easily accessible, playful route into walking as a resistant cultural practice, Smith’s Mythogeography (2010) is a deeper and more complex reflection on the possibilities of a ‘pedestrian resistance’. Engaging with geography as a process of myth-making, Smith advocates an ‘experimental approach to the site of performance (in the very broadest, everyday sense) as a space of multiple layers’ . Developing the strategies of Wrights & Sites' 'mis-guides', Mythogeography (offers ‘a toolbag of ideas for those wanting to create their own mythogeographical practice’ . The text is elusive, contradictory and performative and the reader is invited to go on a textual journey; drifting through the pages and wandering through cross references, inserts and asides .
Originating from the Decible programme for promoting diversity in the arts, Necessary Journeys (2005) was an Arts Council England project in association with bfi Black World. Involving travel bursaries, residencies, archives and film works, the initiative brought together a series of 'diaspora narratives'  from artists working in England. The outcomes of the project are collected in a 'guide book of sorts', which the editors describe as 'knitting together ideas, desires and aspirations to trace a route map through a series of arts projects' . Surrounding the guide are DVDs, images, stories and performances, some of which have been documented and found their way into the Live Art Development Agency's Study Room, represented here by the films of Fernando Arias and Oreet Ashery. As described in the guidebook, these journeys were part of the 'travel' section of the project:
An opportunity, in the form of professional development bursaries, was offered to artists working in digital media to make journeys (actual or virtual) motivated by a desire for adventure, renewal and reflection [...] The resulting journeys represent a spectacular geographical spread covering terrain both known and unknown viewed with fresh yet discerning eyes. From China to Patagonia, these journeys aim to be highly personal interactions with an unspoken past and an, as yet, indeterminate future. 
The Patagonian trip was that of Fernando Arias, a London based Columbian artist. Seeking 'tremendous isolation and an absence of people' , Arias first travelled to his hometown in Quindío, Columbia, to interview his parents about their own sense of national identity and his recently acquired British citizenship. He then visited the rainforests of Columbia's Pacific coast and the Atacama desert to the north of Chile. The journeys finished at 'the end of the world' in Patagonia, a place that promised 'isolation' and 'absolute freedom' .
Fernando Arias, Necessary Journeys, 2006.
Projects’ video, 13’30”.
Video: Courtesy of the artist Fernando Arias.
Video footage of the trip  shows Arias experiencing this 'place of vast solitude' as a vulnerable but playful figure. Naked, in the shelter of snow covered peaks, he sings and shouts to the sky with nobody to hear him apart from his video camera. In a voice over, Arias interviews himself, attempting to understand the point of his trip and struggling with the personal nature of this journey, which is not always easy to share. Arias tells himself ‘I love being miles away from humans’ .
For her necessary journey, Oreet Ashery, a London-based Israeli Jew, returns to her birthplace and explores her father's ancestry of indigenous Palestinians. Ashery focuses on the conflicts in the region and the positive relationships between the Jewish and Arab people. Setting out to 'find a number of connections by following the different pathways' , Ashery walks with her father in the Old City in Jerusalem and visits Peqiin an Israeli village where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together for hundreds of years. She also travels illegally across the IsraelCPalestine border to meet a Palestinian architect. Evoking an emotive history of Jewish journeys, the video diary of the trip is constantly in motion moving roads from car windows, walks through streets and markets.
The border crossing at the Qalandia check point is risky and Ashery expresses doubts. However, 'in the end, a simple but powerful desire to communicate directly with a real person tipped the balance' . She travels on an Arab bus with a British passport and later, her safe passage relies on her taxi driver's negotiations with Israeli soldiers. In the video, Ashery reflects on this experience: 'Again, I feel part of a long Jewish history of travelling. This time it is the history of being smuggled through borders'. This necessary journey is a valuable reminder that not everyone is in the privileged position of being able to travel wherever they like.
For Ashery, this journey is an opportunity 'to ask questions, to talk' . Travelling to a region of conflict that is central to her personal and artistic identity, she is aware from the beginning that 'the journey itself is home...' . The theme of returning home after a journey recurs throughout the series of Necessary Journeys as artists from a range of cultural and geographical backgrounds return to England with new insights about their identity and nationality.
Francis Alÿs, Sometimes Doing Someyhing Leads to Nothing, 1997, the video of the
Video: Francis Alÿs via francisalys.com
No guide on the use of journeys in Live Art would be complete without mentioning the work of Francis Alÿs. Alÿs was born in Belgium and trained as an architect before moving to Mexico City in the late 80s. As Mark Godfrey (2010) suggests, Alÿs manages to find 'poetic and imaginative ways to address the urgent political and economic crises of contemporary life’ . His work includes pushing a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melts (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing, 1997); five hundred volunteers with shovels moving a sand dune ten centimetres (When Faith Moves Mountains, 2002); and film of a choreographed journey of sixty-four Coldstream Guards gradually entering into a group formation as they encounter each other, seemingly at random (Guards, 2005). The latter piece is beautifully documented in the illustrated book, Seven Walks, which also gives a valuable insight into the Artist’s process.
Alÿs’ journeys address a range of issues and their political and artistic value has generated a huge amount of critical analysis and debate. The books selected here include a number of essays, interviews, photographs, plans and descriptions of a vast body of work. While the range of Alÿs’ practice (which spans painting, live performance and film) makes it difficult to make any generalisations, his use of journeys often suggests endurance and manual labour and can be understood to comment on the imbalances and injustices that underlie the production economy Of capitalist societies.
The rationale and ethos of this work is summarised in the title of the film  of his 2004 piece in which he followed the ‘Green Line’ through the city of Jerusalem; the line that originally separated Israel from Jordan. Throughout this walk, Alÿs’ carries a leaking can of green paint, marking the route and making the line visible: ‘Sometimes Doing Something Poetic Can Become Political and Sometimes Doing Something Political Can Become Poetic’.
Francis Alÿs, The Green Line, 2004, the documentary video of the performance.
Video: Francis Alÿs via francisalys.org
Pointed Arrow is a Leedsbased collective of artists that makes journey based work together. Engaging with notions of space and place, the group explore how people’s environment shapes their sense of self. As they travel they listen to the people and places they encounter and often ask them to contribute or respond in some way: writing about what they value, or joining the company in performance or action. They have explored pirate myths along the south coast of England, followed the Pilgrim's Progress and travelled Britain's Great North Road.
For Heave (2009), the company created The Yorkshire On Land Boating Club to push, pull and carry a boat over a hundred miles round the county. For just under a month, The Yorkshire Straif travelled over fields, roads and canals, through the cities, towns, villages and dales of the county. The film of the event documents the experiences of the crew as local people are asked to write what they value on the hull of the boat. From bikers in a layby en(route to Bradford, to graduating students, and pupils at a local primary school, the team meet over two thousand people on their journey and stumble across countless acts of Kindness and generosity.
Of course, not everyone they encounter is sympathetic to the project. In Leeds, the local authorities evict the boat from the city centre for being an event, a vehicle and, despite the wind turbine attached to the hull, an environmental hazard. However, as with many of these journeys, despite inevitable moments of antagonism, Heave appears to touched many lives and the team experience far more positive responses than negative ones. Ultimately, the journey provides an opportunity for Pointed Arrow to reach out to the local community and to meet people who may not usually encounter Live Art. At one point in the journey, as the tiring team heave the boat through rural Yorkshire, they are invited into one woman’s home for refreshments. As they leave, she waves them off and tells them it is an event she will remember forever.
Pointed Arrow, 2009. Process photo.
Proje blogu için Click to see the project blog.
Click to see the Flickr page.
Photograph: Pointed Arrow Performance,
Courtesy of Daniel Ingram-Brown.
Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters began working together in 1997 and have since created over thirty projects. Their work playfully engages with themes of community, endurance and journeys. Esther Pilkington  describes their performances as 'events in which stories are narrated' . These stories are often collected through the journeys that Lone Twin undertake, sometimes through travelling with their work and sometimes through tasks that they set for themselves. They have toured theatre shows, dragged a telegraph pole through a town centre, pushed barrels of equal weight to their bodies, repeatedly crossed a bridge, got lost in a city at night, and constructed a sea-faring boat with people's donated wooden objects. These diverse projects can be characterised by 'participatory and optimistic energies' . Like Pointed Arrow, their work often invites collaboration and a sense of working Together to achieve something.
Lone Twin's performance-lecture, Walk With Me, Walk With Me, Will Somebody Please Walk With Me (2000) is a retrospective of the duo's walking performances. Using a presentation format with a projector screen and two microphones, the piece is delivered through ‘159 points, 12 clips, 2 MPEGs and 7 madeCup stories’. The people and places that Whelan and Winters encountered are recounted through quotations, gesture, video, anecdote and song. Recurring throughout is an official tour narrative with the place names and dates removed: 'Welcome to xxxxx, the building reclaimed from the water in 19xx', and later 'this is an archive photo taken before the invasion of xxxxx and just after the discovery of xxxxx '. Juxtaposed with the personal, human stories of their travels, these sections seem to imply that places only have any real meaning on an Individual and relational level.
In 2012, for The Boat Project, Lone Twin took this desire for human encounters a step further. Inviting residents of the South East of England to donate wooden objects that had some personal meaning for them, they asked 'how does one actually make a boat out of stories and lives?' . After the initial idea, the project took over ten years to complete and was finally made possible by a major commission for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Later in this Guide is an extended reflection on the inaugural public event for the boat, which was named Community Spirit and launched at Emsworth in Hampshire in May 2012 .
An Interview with Kieran Hurley
In June 2009, the thirty-fifth G8 summit took place in L'Aquila in Central Italy. Leaders of the world's richest nations came together in a city that had recently been devastated by an earthquake C a last minute change of venue that brought heavy criticism of opportunism against Silvio Berlusconi's government. A high level of activism surrounded the event and many travelled to L'Aquila to protest in solidarity with local people, against a range of issues from climate change to nuclear policy. Amongst these traveling protesters was Kieran Hurley, a Glasgow based performer and writer.
Hurley decided to hitchhike his way to Italy, hoping to meet people along the way and to gather a sense of how people throughout Europe were responding to the global events that the summit intended to address. This was a journey into the unknown that relied on the kindness of strangers. As he traveled, his journey could be accessed through an installation at the Arches arts centre in Glasgow, which was regularly updated with reports, videos and images from his trip. On his return, Hurley created Hitch an hour-long theatre performance through which he narrated his journey, accompanied by a live band. The story of the people who he met and the relationships that he formed en(route offers a powerful meditation on the real need for human relationships as a basis for a new society that would no longer be driven by market forces and large-scale Conflict.
During a recent tour of the show, I met with Hurley in a pub in Camden and Asked him about the political and artistic outcomes of his journey to Italy.
David Overend: Early on in Hitch, you talk about ‘racking your brains’, trying to remember the original point of the journey to L'Aquila. Did the process of making the performance help you to arrive at an answer to that? Is it all clearer now that Hitch(has existed for a while?
Kieran Hurley: I think that I now have a clearer sense of what the(show is doing. Given that one of my main intentions on going on that journey was to make a show, then those two things are connected. But I don’t think I have any clearer a sense of what it was I hoped to get out of it before leaving. Having made the show, there are two things that exist in this world: the show and my experience of the journey that doesn’t exist in the world in the same way as the show but it exists for me. And sometimes when I’m talking to people, who occasionally refer to the summer of 2009 as when Hitch happened, well that wasn’t when Hitch happened, that was when I hitchhiked to L'Aquila. That was a committed event that lasted a number of weeks: it wasn’t a theatre show. And those two things are distinctly different. So I have a clearer sense, I think, of what the show does, and what its enquiry is, and what it’s about, than I had when I was setting out to make it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I now have any clearer a sense of what I hoped to get out of the journey at that point.
DO: So was this a conscious process of finding out what your politics were in relation to this big global event, by going on the journey?
KH: One of the inevitable consequences of conditioning a real-life experience through the process of making art, and distilling it down into a one-hour narrative, is that things will inevitably become functions for something else... I wasn’t necessarily trying to figure out my position on the politics of that. I (me, Kieran in the real world), even at twenty-three before going on that journey, had a much clearer sense of my own politics, and my own engagement with anti-capitalist activism, than the slightly represented version that you see on stage in Hitch. That doesn’t mean that it’s not true and it’s not real – and that the fear and doubt that I experienced in the show isn’t real… I was really interested in exploring the questions of what the purpose of political protest might be in a world where it seems like there can be no change. And I don’t have any big answers for that. The fact that I don’t have any big answers for that is really present in the show. But what I was interested in doing, for me on the journey, was to find out what some other people’s thoughts were in relation to that. Sure, to inform my own, but I had a pretty good instinctive sense that it was still of value. But I was interested in garnering different responses to that event on my way. And in the narrative of the show, in order for me to be the conduit for that, I have to assume a level of naivety that is maybe slightly exaggerated.
DO: You mention your experiences of encountering other people being part of the rationale for you setting out on that journey. It came across very strongly to me that the people you met – the moments of encounter – are the important reference points along the route. Often those happen on the road (in the car on your way to Leon, on the bus on the way to L'Aquila), but then maybe more of them happen at points of rest in the journey, at moments when you arrive somewhere, when you stop your own movement and you encounter people who inhabit certain places. Is it all about forming relationships rather than the journey?
KH: I think it really is. Its take on anti-capitalist politics is pretty thin on the ground if we’re being honest. The original concept was an inquiry around using a journey as a way of engaging in different interactions with different people on( the(move: asking questions about the purpose of political protest in this world – the phrase I hit upon was asking, ‘where have we come from and where are we going’? That encapsulates the journey but also the act of protest and the space of questioning that a protest opens up as well. But in terms of what you’re saying about places of rest being places where reflections happen, I think there’s something interesting about the experience of hitchhiking where actually it's when you’re physically moving (as long as you’ve not been picked up by someone dangerous, which luckily never happened to me), it’s when you’re physically moving – physically on that active journey – that those conversations come about. Because the place of anxiety, turmoil and stress comes from being rooted to the spot by the side of a road, and just not knowing if you’re going to get picked up. So you’re on the road; you’re on the move; you’re rootless. But you’re physically still. You get taken up into someone’s car. The car is moving through space at a high speed but you’re temporarily rooted in someone else’s story (“so what are you doing?”, “oh, I’m going to a wedding”). So now we are together in this space, and we’re rooted in here, and this becomes a place of respite from the turmoil and uncertainty of not knowing if we’re going to get a lift. So those places of rest, apart from in the bus to L'Aquila when it’s not a place of rest, are places of communion with others in the shared space of the inside of a car, which is moving. That’s part of why it’s restful – you’re making progress… I want to draw out the tension between being still and rootless and in a place of turmoil, and moving, in the passenger seat of a car, but finding respite in someone else’s journey.
I also want to answer the other part of your question, ‘is it about relationships more than anything else?' Yes, I think this show sets up a context that is very much about a kind of postmodern loneliness and isolation; late-capitalist loneliness and isolation. Looking out at the rows of cars at night – the rows of red and white – thinking about how I was told that we spend more of our lives waiting at traffic lights than we do kissing. I’ve used the word ‘loneliness’ many times throughout. Even before the act of hitchhiking I think I set up a sense of feeling a lack of community in the world, and feeling frustrated by that. And part of what the show is about is a journey in search of solidarity and communion and community with strangers. So Gabriel’s in the car and he’s talking about people on the tube and how nothing would ever move forwards if we all had these force fields around us. Now of course that’s not literal but that is what people are doing on the tube anyway. So I think part of what the show is about is searching for an antidote to a kind of twenty-first century urban loneliness. And it so happens that communion and solidarity around a broad shared political cause is the medium for that. But actually I think it’s about a search for human relationships – a search for solidarity.
DO: So how does that translate to your relationship with the audience? You talk about a dynamic between the stillness of these moments of encounter and the moving on, often on your own. There’s a marked difference between the state that you are in, as the person who has gone on this journey and actually done something politically active (albeit something that you were not entirely sure about the end point for), and the audience who are sitting there watching – located and still. Is that dynamic something that you were aware of as you started to make this show?
KH: Not explicitly as something that I intentionally wanted to explore. Only insofar as I knew that I wanted to make a piece that would exist in a studio theatre context. So I was aware that the audience would be still and I would be standing, telling a story. The audience are on three sides and actually the original set up had the audience on three sides over a playing space that was approximately the same dimensions as your average family-sized car. There’s still a brief allusion to that in the show when I mark out the space as a meter and a half wide and three and a half meters deep. But the main purpose of that is to have the audience visible and aware of each other, and close in to me. A huge amount of what I’m doing as a performer in that show is digging deep into some sort of version of myself, which comes from a place of, I think, genuine authenticity, and is about my own fears and vulnerabilities and anxieties. And really trying to relive that – trying to recapture what some of that was; to spill it out a little bit and ask the audience to hold that with me for a while, in quite a tender way. So I suppose I’m asking the audience to form a kind of community of solidarity. On some level, I’m asking the audience to make manifest the kind of community of solidarity that the journey itself was a search for. But whether or not there was a strategic intention between the movement that the story recounts and the locked stillness of the audience in their seats, as a paradoxical thing… It wasn’t necessarily something that was a strategic thing.
DO: For me, when I first watched the show in the Arches in Glasgow in September 2009, I had a strong feeling of not doing what you had done. And that politicised me to a certain degree because I felt that you were doing something. There was an agency there that I wasn’t exercising.
KH: It’s interesting because I think that changes between audiences. The people who tend to get the most out of the show politically are people who would consider themselves in some way fundamentally dissatisfied with how the world works, politically left of centre, not necessarily identified with any kind of activist engagement with the world, and who would probably empathise with feelings of fear, anxiety, loneliness and self doubt of the experience. Lots of other people get different things from it on different levels. But I don’t think that experience that you’ve described – of feeling aware of your own stillness in relation to my decision to move through space and to act – I don’t think that is everyone’s experience of it. I’m speculating here but I know I have played to slightly more activist crowds and actually felt kind of sheepish. Like I wanted to say, ‘look guys, I (me, Kieran – not the guy in the show) really, really know how limited a march from A to B is. I’m really, really aware of the need to radically reimagine the way in which we express dissent'.
I’ve got friends who are much more radically involved in grass-roots, anti-capitalist political activism. And the show is talking on terms that aren’t necessarily engaged with the nuances and the radical politics of the discussion that those communities are having. I think that the politics of the audience massively changes what that experience is and I think that for many people, in many ways you could say – almost accidentally – its intended audience, there is something in what you’re saying about that being still in a space reflecting your own lack of political movement. But for many, many people who have engaged with the show, that stillness does not reflect their relationship with political activism.
The show’s quite deliberately light on my own politics and my own political analysis. There’s many people who are better orators that I am, who will give a better, more inspiring account of an anti-capitalist analysis that makes a case for the politics that I might ascribe to. That’s not what I wanted to do with the show. What I wanted to do with the show was use a journey and use the framework of a political process as a way of exploring things to do with isolation in contemporary society. The story is more about societal isolation and the radical necessity of community than it is about any big political analysis. As such, it’s really light on its politics, and as such, the naivety of my persona is emphasised. So there’s been times when I’ve played to audiences where at least a large contingent of the audience are actually quite ‘on-it’ with their radical politics. And actually, in those moments, the distance between the me who I think I am, and the me as the character in the story, actually feels slightly embarrassing. It’s something that I have an uncomfortable relationship with anyway – that persona. It’s one of the reasons why the next thing that I did wasn’t an autobiography. Even in contexts when I’m playing to people who aren’t an activist crowd, I feel slightly shy about painting myself as this wandering hero.
Balıkçıl kuşu. Görsel: Kana Hata, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ile.
Ice And Sapphire Conjure Flame
A version of this paper was presented at the Arches, Glasgow, September 2011 at the Making Routes launch event.
This is a performance about journeys.
Or perhaps this is a reflection on some of the journeys I have taken within the last eighteen months, which have had a significant impact on me, that have influenced my work, my value systems, my beliefs and my practices.
Or perhaps this is a kind of journey in itself.
May 2010, Southwest Scotland
I decide I am going to walk from the house I am living in at the time, to the sea and back again, following the river Annick, which runs close to the house I am renting. I decide that I should leave before sunrise, and make this journey in silence, and without food. I pack water, some extra socks, a jumper, a tent and sleeping bag, and that’s about it. The evening before I leave, I make a small circle of stones in the garden, where I will stand at dawn for a moment before I set off, to try to identify some meaning relating to why I am embarking on this small journey of mine.
Originally I had planned to do this walk as part of a process which would culminate in a paper which I would submit for my Ecopsychology module as part of the MSc I was studying in Human Ecology, but I didn’t write about this in the end, as my journey became about other things, which somehow weren’t conducive to assessment, academic referencing, and the standard structures of an essay. So I kept it just for me, as something else. A secret journey, for which I was mostly alone, except for, of course, the animals and animate world that I passed by and through. Having never really spoken of this journey with anyone, I thought today’s event would be a good place to do so.
May 2010, Southwest Scotland
I close my eyes and listen to the wind passing over my ears.
Without food you get a little more tired, more quickly than normal and I stop for a rest, and fall asleep for a while by the side of the river. It is a nice spot, where the water is shallow, and it makes a satisfying, comforting noise as it passes over the stones on the riverbed. When I wake up, it is warm and the sun is shining and making the pebbles around me radiate with heat. I stand up slowly and put on my pack, and there, completely to my surprise and absolute delight, is an otter standing next to me. It stops dead still for a moment, and then dashes into the water, causing a great deal of splashing and noisiness as its velvety shape escapes from my gaze. I wonder how long it was there, checking me out and watching me as I slept. This is the first and only time I have ever seen an otter. I wonder for a moment if this is the first time the otter has ever seen a woman, but I doubt this very much.
No one walks here. There are no paths, no means of easily and leisurely meandering along the riverbank. Everything is a mix of clambering through shoulder high brambles and thorns, scaling the sides of river banks, tentatively crossing water on the stones, cautiously climbing the fences of cattle fields, and nervously crossing a single, dilapidated beam all that is left standing of a once used bridge. I try not to look down, and to concentrate on all those balancing poses I’ve been practicing in yoga.
A note about crossing rivers:
For my whole life, I have always looked for a combination of stones dotted width ways across the river, which would allow me to hop straight across the water, directly from bank to bank. On this particular journey, I realised the shortcomings of this method of finding a route across the waterway. Very rarely did such a convenient arrangement of stones appear especially given that my legs are quite short, and the water level was quite high. So when looking for crossings I began to widen my scope, extend my field of vision. I would look down the river lengthways, and plot a divergent path of stones, which snaked left and right across the water, eventually arriving safely at the other side. This meant I was on the water for a much longer time and distance, but it was well worth it, as there was far less danger of falling in and getting very wet. In the end, it turned out that the best way was to think of my journeys across the river with longitude, and to resist the urge to look for the fastest, shortest route. During this realisation, I wondered if this urge of mine, this instinctual shortcutting, is/was part of my postindustrial, twenty-first century upbringing. Eventually, I was able to stop charting the paths at all and step onto a rock in the river, knowing that somewhere downstream, I would come safely to the other side.
Later on my journey, I see a flash of blue dash upstream as I plod slowly toward the river’s end. This is the first time I have ever seen a kingfisher.
Balıkçıl Fotoğraf: Pieter van der Velden, CC BY-NC 2.0 ile.
- An Idea about a performance for the birds
- An idea about a performance where a chorus of children leads an audience
through a landfill, and into a forest. There is a deer on the way, picking through
the remains of all our mess.
- An idea about a performance, where I can pack down and carry the parts of the
dwelling I am living in, on a wheeled cart from place to place. I can have a series
of housemates in each place I go to and we can help each other live here. These
people are the audience.
February 2011, Central North India
I have been in an ashram where I have eaten the same meal, three times a day,
for one month. Everyone from the West is either constipated or has diarrhoea. I
am faced with the ludicrous realisation that I have travelled seven thousand
miles to try to understand what it means to find stillness. They tell me in this
ashram a lonely Jain temple among rice fields that shortcutting is an aspect of
the Tamas Guna, which is the Guna of darkness. They emphasise the value of
long, thorough, authentic process. They feel things that matter should be worthy
of lifelong engagement and focus.
The monks here pull out all of their hair as an act of austerity, and walk naked,
with their only possession a brush made of peacock feathers, which they use to
gently move aside any floor dwelling, living creatures that may be in their path,
so that they will cause them no harm. They believe in the fundamental notion of
Ahimsa (non violence) , and absolutely no killing. They believe in a general
principle letting things live, wherever possible. They believe your soul lives
through one hundred and eight different bodies. A vegetable is a different
category of body to the beetle, as the second one feels more, and can feel when
you cause harm, or traumatically take its life. The Jains see souls in rocks, in
bacteria, in plants and in mosquitoes. They see souls alive everywhere, in
everything, moving through an epic journey of lifetimes. You never know where
you or another is, on this journey through lifetimes so according to the Jains, we
are always in the unknown midst of a voyage spanning one hundred and eight
different bodies. Next you might be a dung beetle, and you may have just been a
tree. The important thing for them is to respect the journeys of the souls around
them, and to try to do the best job you can, on whatever part of the journey you
February 2011, Northeast India
I am in the Himalayas and it is minus twenty degrees. At four thousand meters
we come across a dog, alone, as if he is waiting for our arrival. In the evening I
throw him the leftovers of our meal and he spends all the entire night on the top
of the hill, howling into the darkness. I cannot think what this means and why he
might be doing this.
The next morning, I am so ill with altitude sickness that my head has swollen up
to resemble a beetroot coloured rugby ball and it feels like my eyes are going to
ping out of my head like ball bearings from an air rifle. The official line as my
guide tells me, is that the ice and snow is too bad to go the extra thousand meters
to the summit, but I know already, that regardless of the weather, I could go no
I have always naïvely thought that you can always go beyond where you are, that
no journey is ever finished, but this time, I really could go no further.
February 2011, Northeast India
Having descended from the mountains with a now normal shaped head, I have
arrived in the oven-like Varanassi, a busy town, on the banks of the sacred river
Ganges, full of pilgrims and tourists. On the ghats I see a man with a cage, which
contains a kingfisher, who despite her attempts, is unable to open her wings in
the cramped and tiny space she has been enclosed in. I remembered that a man
once told me they are also known as the jewel of the river. My companion and I
rush over to man and I hear the words, ‘On no, the poor kingfisher'. We ask what
the birds are for. The man tells us that if we pay him, he will release the bird, and
this will mean good karma for us on our journey. I say ‘Surely this is your karma,
Everything is confusing and difficult about this situation to me.
I really remember that bird, I think of it all the time.
An idea for a performance in Scotland, where I try to swim in every loch.
An idea for a performance delivered to taxi drivers whilst they drive you home.
An idea for a performance on the A1 motorway, walking super slowly, up the
hard shoulder, against the flow of the traffic.
June 2011, a small island off the West Coast of Ireland
I am staying with a woman, who is teaching me a course in advanced Yoga and
meditation. Lots of things I thought I knew about these practices are challenged
and transformed by her ideas and experience. I am grateful for this woman and
all that she knows. We really get on well and like each other very much. The
night before I leave she asks me if I would like a starter. I say yes, absolutely.
A "starter" or levain, is essentially an ancestral and natural form of preferment
used in bread-making processes. Bread made using this method is called
sourdough, which in comparison with yeast-based breads, produces a
distinctively tangy or sour taste. This is because of the lactic acid produced by
the lactobacilli; a natural culture, bred in symbiotic combination with yeasts,
allowing you to bake bread with it.
In short, it is a raising agent dough mixture which has been cultivated over a
period of time, picking up the natural yeasts from the environment and air
around it. It uses no artificially produced or dried yeasts, and you only ever need
flour, water and salt to make bread using a starter.
shows me how to make the bread, and how to maintain the starter, and
siphons off some extra for me to take home in a glass jar. This starter was
initiated in Ireland thirty years ago, and is as old as I am. Once you receive a
starter, you have to keep it alive and take care of it. Ciara, the woman I am with,
explains to me that if she is away for a while, she takes her starter with her, so
that it won’t die. I wrap mine in a jumper and a plastic bag, and as I make my
journey back to Scotland, my starter in my bag in the luggage hold of the ferry,
my mind worries for the safety of my starter, and hopes it hasn’t been broken, or
smashed, or shaken too much.
When I get home, I try to make sourdough as Ciara has taught me and it doesn’t
work. A friend laughs as I compare this process to continually buying bags of
flour and throwing them directly in the bin. But I keep trying, keeping the starter
alive all the time. The most important thing in this process is the thing that has
longitude the starter. The immediate gratification of a freshly baked loaf is
secondary in importance.
Thank goodness, eventually I understand and perfect it. Now I am bound to this
process a lifelong engagement with the act of making daily bread. I am grateful
to have this accompaniment on my journey and to keep this starter alive for
potentially another thirty years.
An idea for a performance in which I follow my father (who I have only met
once), twelve years ago , continuously at a distance of thirty feet without him
knowing. That is one foot for every year we have been strangers.
An idea for a nighttime performance where I work with scientists to
understand and discern the nocturnal movement and behaviour of foxes. The
audience and I can move through the landscape through the night as a fox does,
understanding its journey through the quiet streets of our towns and cities.
Perhaps the foxes would watch us, and wonder where we go in the daytime.
An idea for a performance that moves and moves and keeps on going.
I have been thinking of that word a lot recently. Moves. That we use the word
move for a change in location, or a travelling through environment or space, but
we also use it for when we are emotionally affected or engaged in some way.
I suppose this is because we are simply not in the same place afterward, that
somehow we have arrived, without any physical movement necessarily, at a
different area of ourselves, perhaps an area which is less travelled to, a more
unchartered territory, a place which is only visited occasionally. We are changed.
Perhaps the ‘place’ we are moved to doesn’t have a role in our ‘business as usual',
or isn’t given space in day to day life and activity. In my own experience, it is a
place which is often given much less room to breathe, which can become
suffocated, ignored, or worse still, forgotten if the space for it to live isn’t created.
It matters that we can learn to move to these parts of ourselves, and that things
made with love and beauty can give us those precious opportunities.
Community Spirit’in gövdesinde kullanılan bağışlardan biri. Bağış No. 895: Jimi Hendrix’in gitarından bir parça. Fotoğraf: Toby Adamson, Design Boom aracılığıyla
On the way back from Ireland, I bought a book on The Poetry of Birds, which has a
picture of a kingfisher on the front. I recall that someone told me that the
kingfisher is the symbol of transformation in some cultures. I remember being on
a panel with the wonderful Anne Bean, and when talking of transformation she
said that she had heard that the body completely renews itself, every seven
years. She said she felt she was always changing, always transforming, always
moving in some way, and I understood this.
- An idea for a performance where I trace the journey of my starter, and pass on
parts of it, following its journey forward.
- An idea for a performance where I bury texts, objects and memories from the
last ten years, in a circle within ten miles radius from where I live. In ten years I
will uncover them again.
- An idea for a performance where you walk with someone to where they need to
get to in that moment in their lives. When you arrive there, you walk another to
the place they need to get to, and so on, and on and on.
Kingfisher by Peter Scupham
December took us where the idling water
Rose in a ghost of smoke, its banks hard-thatched
With balancing reeds, the sun in a far quarter.
Short days had struck a bitter chain together
In links of blue and white so closely matched
They made an equipoise we called the weather.
There, the first snowfall grew to carapace,
The pulse beneath it beating slow and blind,
And every kind of absence marked the face
On which we walked as if we were not lost
As if there was something there to find
Beneath a sleep of branches grey with frost.
We smiled, and spoke small words which had no hold
Upon the darkness we had carried there,
Our bents and winter dead-things, wisps of cold.
And then, from wastes of stub and nothing came
The Kingfisher, whose instancy laid bare
His proof that ice and sapphire conjure flame.
Launching Community Spirit
I was drawn to this project from the beginning. Following progress online, I
watched the collection and selection of hundreds of wooden objects, the design
of the vessel, and the collective construction process, taking place in a boat shed
in Hampshire. The ambition and scale of Lone Twin’s plans were admirable.
Residents of South East England were invited to tell their stories and donate
items that would be turned into a seaworthy yacht. After its maiden voyage along
the south coast and inland to Milton Keynes, the boat would be made available
for public use as a sailing and arts resource. I felt left out and decided to be there
for the launch.
Community Spirit açılış gününün videosu Video: Toby Adamson, Michael Austin ve Lone Twin, Vimeo aracılığıyla
On Monday 7th May 2012, I took the train from London Victoria to Emsworth
and arrived in a downpour. Huddling by the station wall, a crowd of people
waited for a bus to arrive. Some of them lived nearby and wanted to know what
all the fuss was about, and others had traveled from elsewhere in the UK artists,
students, producers, as well as those who had donated their own objects and
were seeing the boat for the first time. Soon, 'I' became 'we' as the weather
provided a valuable route into conversation.
After a short, damp journey, we arrived at the marina. The rain was not showing
any signs of relenting and, as is so often the case in outdoor events in this
country, we arrived to find that the vast majority of people had crammed
themselves into the food and drink tents, cowering under the tarpaulin. The
event had all the trappings of a quintessential English country fair a bar run by
the nearest publicans, an art exhibition, roast meat in bread rolls and a selection
of local produce available to sample and purchase. David Williams' book about
The Lone Twin Boat Project was also on sale a series of essays appended with a
comprehensive catalogue of all the objects and stories that went into the
construction of the boat.
Eventually, we were coaxed out of our shelters by the compère. As the rain
gradually relented, a local choir and a sea-shanty group provided the
entertainment. The music was interspersed by short interviews with the people
who had made this project happen as the compère introduced Mark Covell, the
chief builder and project manager; the captain and members of the crew; Gregg
Whelan and Gary Winters from Lone Twin; and several of the hundreds of
volunteers and donators.
Each had their own stories to tell about their individual contributions and
experiences, but more importantly, all of them knew they were part of something
much bigger a sense of community formed around an idea and a belief that
working together on something would make it possible. As Whelan and Winters
assembled the team and found their builder, they were driven by 'enthusiasm for
stories, adventure, humour and music, as well as a convivial ease with other
people' as much as by the specialist knowledge and technical skill that the build
Teknedeki nesnelerden bazıları: Raket, kaykay ve süpürge. Fotoğraf: Toby Adamson, Design Boom aracılığıyla
And at the centre of it all was a beautiful boat. Close up, the intricacy of the
design was impressive; an apparently delicate surface but hardy enough for a
voyage along the south coast:
A tiny elephant stands in the shadow of a bleached horse’s head between a
tree and a spirit level. A helicopter hovers over a minute hillside house and a
violin. A clothes hanger, clothes peg and rolling pin float in orbit around a
miniscule train. A tiny cat stands transfixed with its back to two overlaid
electric guitars. And an aardvark trundles stoically along beneath a tennis
racket and a cricket bat. 
The final result of years of planning, collecting, listening and building is a
remarkable travelling museum of people's lives and stories represented by an
archive of personal possessions that have been generously donated to make
something new. The layers and structures of individual and collective histories
are tangible and it brings together international superstardom (a shard from Jimi
Hendrix's guitar), maritime icons (a piece of the Mary Rose) and personal
biographies (toys, tools and hundreds of other personal possessions).
It would be possible to examine the fabric of the boat for hours but midC
afternoon, as the sun crept out from behind the clouds, the crowd surrounding
the boat parted to make way for the launch. This was the moment the assembled
TV crews and press had been waiting for. A huge crane hoisted the vessel into
the air and a slightly mistimed countdown preceded a confetti canon and a huge
cheer as the boat was carefully and slowly lowered into the water.
As I stood amongst the jubilant onlookers, each stretching over each other's
heads to take their own photographs of the floating vessel, the thing I was really
struck by was the palpable sense of community that had developed throughout
the afternoon. The craftsmanship in the boat was outstanding and the technical
and management skills that realised Lone Twin's original idea was staggering.
But more than that, it was the announcements to find the lost child, and later the
lost old woman; the enthusiasm and anecdotes of the bar staff; the song by the
daughter of the project manager. All this created a memorable event with the
boat at the centre of it all.
In the lead up to the launch, a competition had been running to name the boat
and earlier that week it had been christened Community Spirit. The name
captures the ethos, the methodology and the outcome of TheBoat Project. Not
only was the boat assembled through the contributions and time volunteered by
the people of South East England, it will continue to encounter communities on
its maiden voyage which includes stops in Brighton, Portsmouth, Suffolk and
even landlocked Milton Keynes.
Community Spirit also reveals something about journeyCbased Live Art in
general. Like Pointed Arrow's Yorkshire Onland Boating Club and Kieran
Hurley's journey to L'Aquila, Lone Twin's boat is ultimately created through
ongoing meetings and encounters with people and communities. It is about
working together to create something beautiful in the shared space of the live
encounter. When that moment of interaction is at a point in a journey, it has a
future. Community Spirit will touch the lives of many more communities as it
takes on a new life as a public art and sailing resource. It was a privilege to be
there at its launch.