Afternoon Dust

Seecum Cheung — The Dutch Window

Seecum Cheung's The Dutch Window, large projection screen in front of a wall of orange curtains

Anyone who spends much time in the gallery of Birmingham visual arts space Grand Union inevitably falls in love with the windows that line the full length of two opposing walls, and many artists who exhibit there choose to make use of them in some way. Serendipitously, windows form a central theme and metaphor in British-born, Netherlands-based artist Seecum Cheung’s solo exhibition The Dutch Window, for which blinds and curtains have been installed to bathe the gallery in a soothing orange twilight.

On looking back in anger

I love the discussions at my barber’s, where I learn a lot more than I do from national media. As I sat waiting for my turn this morning, the guy currently occupying the barber’s chair made a very good point: he couldn’t understand why Manchester United fans at their mid-week match were singing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ in response to the 22 May Manchester Arena bombing, when anger would seem to be an entirely appropriate human response to the violent murder of children. He was of course absolutely right: I couldn’t imagine not feeling angry if someone attacked my friends or family, and I wouldn’t want to be the sort of person who wouldn’t feel anger towards the aggressor in such circumstances.

Poem for Heath Bunting

These sounds come from China.
So does this tea.

Sometimes the world is a vast inescapable system:
        one's only recourse
        is to various circumventions, errancies,
        and detours, to multiplications of
        identities; you spot the opportunity
        to play a certain role and you
        seize it, only to realise that's all
        anyone else is doing, though perhaps
        less consciously.
Sometimes the world is riven with elsewheres,
        tiny holes
        through which you look but shall not
        pass, the tunnel you back out of.


Artist Heath Bunting spoke about his work at VIVID Projects, Birmingham as part of the exhibition Dot.Art, which runs until 27 May 2017.

Wind in the marram

Marram grass on the dunes at Newborough / Niwbwrch

Some more new sounds from me on aporee.org:

Aber Falls / Rhaeadr Fawr
Wind in the massam at Newborough / Niwbwrch

As ever, best enjoyed with headphones or good speakers.

Nottdance 2017: Dancing in public

A couple of weekends ago I was in Nottingham for Nottdance, a biennial festival of new dance. If I had the time I would write about everything I saw, because it was all brilliant, but things being what they are I’m going to have to focus on what were probably my favourite performances of the weekend, Rosanna Irvine’s Ah Kissing and Odori-Dawns-Dance’s Forest and Clearing.

Winter colours

On New Year’s Eve I went walking up Crookrise Crag on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with my dad, who wanted to photograph the sunset. Given that it was the middle of winter and quite a dull day, I was expecting quite a grey and muted landscape. Imagine my surprise, then, upon finding a black earth carpeted with mosses of vivid green and red, and stones covered in multicoloured lichens.

Brightly coloured green and red moss

Brightly coloured blue and red lichen on a rock

Looking back, looking forward

It seems like everyone’s complaining about how awful 2016 was, but on reflection it wasn’t such a bad year for me personally. Here are a few highlights, along with some things I’m looking forward to in 2017.

I really enjoyed They Are Here’s ‘Precarity Centre’ residency at Grand Union in the spring. Although the content of the programme was interesting, it was really the ethos of open participation and conversation that I connected with the most. I hope more artists and curators adopt this approach in 2017.

Introducing... Birmingham Dance Network

I was warned in advance of attending Birmingham Dance Network’s annual showcase of new dance work that the audience would be invited to provide written feedback to the artists, but somehow I forgot to bring a pen. Here I’ve attempted to answer the questions asked on the feedback form for each of the six pieces. I lose a degree of anonymity, but, well, should’ve brought a pen.

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Dance and opera in Digbeth

A few years ago I saw a ‘remix’ of a dance piece by Judson Dance Theater alumna Lucinda Childs at a festival in Amsterdam. The piece was titled ‘Radial Courses’, apparently because the choreographer felt she couldn’t get away with calling it ‘Running in Circles’ — which would’ve been a more accurate description of the dance itself. I was reminded of this piece when watching three members of Birmingham Dance Network performing in response to Donald Rodney’s Psalms, a work of art consisting of a powered wheelchair programmed to move autonomously in circles, spirals, and figures-of-eight, all while avoiding obstacles such as people.