Recent commission for Opera North Projects
I’m delighted to have been selected for the Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios, along with artists Lena Dobrowolska & Teo Ormond-Skeaping and Zoë Svendson.
Working with artists’ moving image, photography, installation, theatre and performance, the chosen artists will undertake a new kind of residency programme which embeds them within climate research and policy knowledge networks, rather than within one institution. They will engage with climate scenarios, and explore and extend the ways in which society engages with the range of possible future climates.
Announced at Jerwood Space on Monday night, Shonagh Manson, Director of Jerwood Charitable Foundation said “These networked residencies will put culture and artistic practice at the heart of conversations about our climate futures. The artists selected have demonstrated a keen hunger for dialogue and exchange around these issues, which passionately inform their work. These residencies will harness the imaginations of talented artistic individuals for the benefit of the scenario planning network whilst simultaneously providing a unique research environment in which each artist can further their own practice and projects.”
In conjunction with Opera North’s epic presentation of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle, a new sound and film installation The Water Sinks Down with Them by artist Emma Critchley comes to Leeds Central Library from Monday 16 to Thursday 26 May.
The installation will accompany Opera North’s Ring cycle on tour to:
- The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London: Friday 24 June – Sunday 3 July
- BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, in association with Sage Gateshead: Friday 8 – Sunday 10 July
Admission at all venues is free, with no booking required
Emma Critchley takes her inspiration from the opening bars of Wagner’s 16-hour epic, beginning where the composer began with the primeval energy of the River Rhine: ‘The fact that the Ring starts and ends in water is central to my response with this work. It’s an exploration of this Wagnerian idea of a pre-existing cosmos in which human consciousness takes form. The water is primordial and evokes an expansive sense of time, before and after our own existence. Through the film a timeless, ever-changing space unfolds that seems at times colossal, at others microscopic.’
Sound designer Nicolas Becker, who has worked with filmmakers including Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg, and received his second Golden Reel award for his work on Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, has been collaborating with the artist. A recording of Opera North’s Rhinemaidens – the first and the last characters seen in the four-opera cycle – will form basis of the soundscape. “It’s inspired by the opening bars of Das Rheingold that evolve into the first sung word, which is Wagner’s metaphor for the evolution of consciousness” says Critchley.
The artist, a qualified commercial diver whose fascination with the submarine world can be seen throughout her work in photography and film, admits that she is a newcomer to the music of Wagner: ‘It’s been a steep learning curve – I spent Christmas getting to grips with recordings of the cycle and the libretto translations, and reading around the myths and the philosophy that fed into Wagner’s work.’
She cites Ludwig Feuerbach, the German philosopher and contemporary of Wagner, as an influence on the new installation. Feuerbach’s belief in the supremacy of nature, which ‘has no beginning and no end’ and ‘is at once effects and cause, acting and reacting on all sides’, was taken up passionately by Wagner as he wrote the Ring, and in an early draft the cycle concludes with the so-called ‘Feuerbach ending’.
The Water Sinks Down with Them is part of an extensive programme of special events and commissions, including talks, film screenings, live broadcasts and family workshops, in celebration of Opera North’s performance of six complete cycles of the Ring in cities across the country this summer.
Emma Critchley will give an informal artist’s talk in the exhibition space on Tuesday 17 May from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Admission is free and no booking is necessary, but space is limited so early arrival is recommended.
SYMPOSIUM AT ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY, ARTS CENTRE FRIDAY 15th JANUARY 2016
CP Snow’s Rede lecture of 1959 (‘The Two Cultures’) considered the humanities and sciences to be two separate strata. Arguably, a large degree of separation has remained ever since. Yet with the subsequent rise in awareness of the need to manage human impacts on the Earth, there have been calls for more integrated, holistic modes of thinking that involve greater engagement between multiple strata in academia and wider society. Such calls have been brought into sharp focus by debate over the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological time interval that suggests that humans are now the dominant influence shaping the Earth system. Are human activities such as agriculture, mining and urbanisation leaving distinctive ‘footprints’ in the Earth’s strata that will endure into the future and so enter the long-term geological record? What are the practical, cultural, ethical and moral implications of such a proposal?
To examine these and other questions, Strata brings together practitioners who work collaboratively across the arts and sciences (both broadly defined) in addressing the concept of the Anthropocene. The symposium’s principal remit is to consider the ways in which art and science collaborations are responding to the Anthropocene debate by representing the past, present and future impacts of human activity on the Earth system.
The symposium is concurrent with the exhibition ‘Stranded’ by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey at the Arts Centre, and is a collaboration between the School of Art (SoA) and the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES), organised by Julian Ruddock (SoA) and Stephen Tooth (DGES). Support is provided by the British Society for Geomorphology’s ‘Visualising Geomorphology’ Working Group.
Julian Ruddock, Stephen Tooth, Dan Harvey (of Ackroyd and Harvey), Emma Critchley, Alan Beattie, Liz Orton, Anna Falcini, Hannah Sofaer, Deniz Baker