Chris - Walk 4.30-5.15disused railway line, Fallowfield to Chorlton (where he used to walk Madge the Dog). £5.
Gareth - Walk 6.00 Foot of the Hilton Tower , to Castlefields, Deserted. £TBC
Notes on Past Present & Future Doings by The Artist Simon Bowes
centime, ragtime, old boat, shoal, rope mender, rope maker, slingshot, bottletop, masthead, light, fallow field, washerwoman, fleet, (...) the light falls on you handsomely, the stomach of a young woman (...) a body brought from the shore, cracked, how beautiful we will be when we forget how to count (...) you rest your bones in a language I have not yet learned to speak (...) here I am, a land animal, I stoop to pick up a set of good reasons and crumple them in my palmNothing I'm particularly happy with, but there it is.
1. A Mackerel skin
2. The skin on hot milk
3. Thousands of floating specks of light*
4. The colour of a dog I know. N.B., She used to live here
5. A turbulent sea
7. The Last of the Mohicans
8. The speed of sound
9. 2 days ago, the thunder
10. The Ashokan Farewell
11 Flood in my eyes
13. The dirty whites of Dad's eyes
*They aren't in the sky they are in my eyes.
...the dull distorting effects of time, in phrases which sound right but aren’t…He said: Oh, I don’t know, I don’t remember, then he says: one always forgets the most important things, it’s the things one can’t remember that stay with you (Bennett, 1998, p258)
After a conversation with my parents, our 0-5 of my un-remembrances or half-remembrances are:I am very much looking forward to my weekend. I will be documenting it here and at sundaywithme.blogspot.com.
0-1: Swan's Fish & Chips, on the road behind Bold St (Lord St?)
1-2: Birkdale School, Farnborough Road
2-3: The park where they have the birds in cages - on Cambridge Rd, end of Lord St.
3-4: The site of the old Matti & Tisso, Lord St (coming up from Liverpool Rd, before Scarisbrick)
4-5: Ainsdale united Reform Church, where I was Christened:
Bonus Ball: Wayfarer's Gallery.
Feel free to investigate and take me to any or all of these places."
I learnt the name of the show, and found one photograph, in which I observe the following details: your hand pressed flat to floor; elbow pointing upwards; head up (eyes looking slightly to the left), and I notice the reflection of your hand in the floor.
It is 10.09 on the 27th March, and for me, for now, the performance is a short distance, enfolded, between the fingertips and the nape of the neck. If I look again at the photograph I cannot be sure what movement led into this stillness, or what movement led out of it.
When I tried this stillness for myself I held it a while, long enough to notice how I was moving, trembling under my own weight, tense at the top of my spine. When I got up I felt sure that the performance began and ended in the humming feeling that joined up my wrist and the top of my spine. I held this position for 23 minutes. 23 to think this thought through.
Look at me I'm dancing".
Our way is mapped. But the map is just sheet music. We might learn to decipher and translate the gradients, the inclines and declines that imply a sense of harmony in visual dynamics, and a foreseen past, a foreseen present and a foreseen future. But the eye cannot see precisely how the body will feel in the unforeseeable future, the unforeseeable present and the unforeseeable past.
The mathematician will tell us that there are 1,760 yards to a mile, and that there are 5,280 feet to a mile, but that is incorrect, there are two feet, if I am walking on my own; four if there two of us. The maths is very simple: Multiply the number of feet by the number of beating hearts (this varies for bipeds, quadrupeds, and so on).
There is no such thing as a mile, and there is no such thing as a kilometer. We will not be measuring the walk at all, but if we did, we would measure it in the comfortable distances of our purposeful strides walked into many distances.
We will locate the walk in the space between the heel of one foot and the toe of the other. But this will also prove to be inadequate to an idea – or a love – of walking. The verb ‘to walk’ will, eventually, exercise itself beyond restraint and surpass the nouns and adjectives, which move slowlier and more deliberately.
Acconci: Following Piece –
In 1969, the artist Vito Acconci decided to follow strangers (covertly) around the streets of New York: ‘until he or she disappeared into a private place where Acconci could not enter…following could last a few minutes…or four or five hours’ He did this throughout the month of October. His record from the 14th October’s reads:
5.00PM: 6th Ave & 4th St, SW corner: Man with black attaché case - he walks S on 6th Ave.
5:01PM: He goes down into IND subway station, 6th Ave & 3rd St, and stands on uptown side, upper platform.
5:08PM: He boards F train uptown.
5:50PM: He gets off at 169th St, Jamaica; he stands on line at bus stop, Hillside Ave & Homelawn St.
5:59PM: He boards 17A bus; line is too long and I’m too far behind him – I can’t get on.
Acconci began to consider the act of following as a kind of participation or complicity with others. He said: ‘I made my art by using other people’ / Acconci, who until then had been active as a poet, started as of 1969- to himself perform what he would otherwise have written : He said:
I used to know what my ground was—this piece of paper in front of me. Now I didn’t have that ground anymore; now I was in real space (…) I started by taking a system that already existed in the world and tried to tie myself into it: if there was a person walking on the street, I would follow that person. Decisions of time and space were out of my hands […]
Writers tend to consider Following Piece as a text, but we might prefer to consider it as a structured improvisation, a non-contact improvisation, with element of chance, that allowed Acconci bind his time to their time.
The writer and philosopher Maurice Blanchot offers us a definition of research that includes ‘fascination’, ‘waywardness’, ‘distraction’ - ‘to research’ is to renounce ‘the desire for certainty’ (Peters, 2003, ijea.asu.edu/v4n2), that:
Searching and error would be akin. To err is to turn and return, to give oneself up to the magic of the detour (Blanchot, 1993, p26 and 1982, p238), turning [is] the very movement of research (Blanchot, 1993, p3, 8, 25),
That research reverts or proceeds:
always [to] the point of beginning, at the point where the search must begin again in the face of, and from within, the unknown (Peters, 2003, ijea.asu.edu/v4n2).
In 2006, researchers Lawrence Bradby and Carl Lavery made a walk through Norwich, later responding to the walk through a series of letters published as Moving through place: itinerant performance and the search for a community of reverie .
In the foreword to the letters, they made a point of calling Norwich ‘a City they both knew well,’ but their letters suggest that our increasing familiarity with place necessarily involves a receptiveness to the strangeness of its changeability, that is, to the lives lived there.
As Lavery suggested: ‘the body is a tool which both registers what is there and rewrites it’ (Lavery, 2007, p45), that is: our transient movements through place provoke an intellectual and physical response, our response leaves its trace (even if it is only the prints left by our footsteps). Bradby and Lavery’s written correspondence affirms walking as a form of attentiveness to an environment.
For Lavery, Walking…‘permits us to experience place as something ephemeral and poetic, that is to say, as something lived’ (Lavery, 2007, p45). He wrote:
When I drift, I’m not interested in gazing at things; I pay attention to noises, to feelings, to smells, to intuitions. I want to pick things up. This sensitivity to atmospherics and materials is what allows the drifter to take the (…) temperature of a given place or site (Lavery, 2007, p45).
Lavery describes our attentiveness to place as something active. He offers an alternative to the distanced spectatorship that is often taken be synonymous with ‘critical engagement’.
What Lavery underscores, is that walking puts us into a direct and often-indeterminate relationship with our surroundings, where each movement we make and its corresponding sensation allows us not only to see, but to smell, touch, taste and hear place. After walking with Bradby, Lavery wrote:
This experiment in itinerant performance is not scientific
Walking is doing, a practice, a performance, a way of witnessing (Lavery, 2007, p46).
I have felt familiar with this text for a long time and always disagreed with Levinas on that issue - that we may turn towards the object as we notice details. The notion of 'face' as 'visage' is discounted by Levinas. In my PhD thesis I attempted to clarify Levinas' position on 'access to the face' by suggesting that the experience of the face of the other person can be twinned with the experience of heaing their voice.
I don’t know if one can speak of a phenomenology of the face, since phenomenology describes what appears. So, too I wonder if one can speak of a look turned toward the face, for the look is knowledge, perception. I think rather that access to the face is straightaway ethical. You turn towards the other as an object when you see a nose, a forehead, a chin, and you can describe them. The best way of encountering the other is not even to notice the colour of his eyes! When one observes the colour of the eyes one is not in a social relationship with the other. The relation to the face can surely be dominated by [visual / analytic / thematic] perception, but what is specifically the face is what cannot be reduced to that…The face is signification, and signification without context’ (Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, 1985, p85-6, my emphasis).
I found this Accordion at my Landlady Jean’s house. She said I could borrow it./ Introduction:
The story went that when she was growing up her oldest brother Peter worked at the Docks in Liverpool, and he had a friend, Franz, from Germany, a sailor, who stayed with the family whenever his ship came in.
Once when Franz was staying he brought out his little Accordion for Jean to play. Her curiosity about the instrument sparked something in him and he decided to make her a present of it.
Now when I play it, I think about the unfamiliarity of the instrument, how it hurts hand to hold it and, despite how light it is, how heavy it feels.
I think about Franz sailing wherever he sailed, and I wondered what he did without the Accordion, and then I think about him listening to all the music that Jean was playing, hearing the notes, the melodies, not even imagining them, but actually hearing them, far beyond the Northern Sea.
And now: Good evening / afternoon, and welcome to today’s lecture; which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time. We were rabbits and dogs, the passing time; we were kestrels and starlings, the passing of time, let’s drink to that, the passing of time./ Motherhood, Boyhood, and the book of the birds -
In the year of my birth my mother kept a book detailing the following weights: March the 25th: 2 lbs 6 ounces / April the 25th/26th: 2 lbs, 14 ounces / May the 15th: 3lbs 5 1/2 ounces, along with the details of her encounters with bird life, plant life and other phenomena of the Natural World. After twenty blank pages, the book recommences on the 7th August 1990. Now we are ten:
“Out walking. Today we spotted a kestrel circling below us, but steadily gaining height. We followed the path towards the river and a little while later were stopped in our tracks by a bird suddenly falling, like a stone from the sky. Was this the same bird that had flown below us just half an hour before? Speechless – yes – amazing, it was so stunned that I was able to walk right up to it, and slowly fold my jumper over its back, and wrap it up. It was so scared that its beak was wide open, but no sound came. We decided to take her home. Something or someone might find it, and…goodness knows what would happen then./ Promenade –
When we arrived at the Owl Centre they told us that kestrel had a sprained wing; that had we of left her, she would surely have died. They let us take the kestrel home to nurse her. And we have decided to call her Princess.”
Sunday August the 23rd:
“A lovely sunny morning quite calm and still with a little mist lingering around the hills. We carried the box across the bridge at the foot of the mountain and Simon pulled the string to open the door of the hutch. She stayed in the cage a few minutes, and then, suddenly, suddenly, flew straight out of the box. As we walked back across the bridge and down the road, she crossed over ahead of us and wheeled back towards the hills. As she flew, Simon started singing a little song
Little Birdie, Little Birdie / Give to me your song / I'm a short time for to stay here / And a long time when I'm gone / I’d rather be in some dark hollow / where the sun refuse to shine / than to see some other man love you / when I want to call you mine / Little Birdie, Little Birdie / What makes you fly so high / It's because I've a true heart / That I don't care when I’ll die"
In the picture he is about eighteen, ten years my junior, looking smart, handsome, walking down the promenade with his father, who looks at the camera, with some kind of annoyance, discomfort, or sadness. That was Bridlington, though / Brid / and that was my father, not me.
He said “The Sea Hugs and will not let go” [FN1], but that was Carl Sandburg, not me. He had three questions, and he kept on asking them: “Who am I / Where am I going / Where have I been”. He had to keep on asking because the answers kept changing. Carl Sandburg is sometimes a book, sometimes a song, sometimes a train ride and sometimes a thought of the sea./ Dawn’s Early –
We stayed the night in a hotel, drinking ourselves to a troubled sleep. The following morning we were out at first light. I looked out for you, between an early sunrise and a last morning star. Far away were the twinkling night-lights of Vreedenburg and sleepy villages on the coast below./ Interview –
There were five white dice, and I couldn't even throw a six. Looking down, I saw that each of the dots was a full stop that comes at the end of a name. Peter Bos. Ronnie Krepel. Hayo den Boest. Frank van den Bos. Car Gout.
They are standing by a memorial to the fisherman of Scheveningen, 1914-1919, which bears the legend: "There they are, where there is neither night nor mist")
He said: "A man and his son are stood on places and spots which don’t exist anymore". That was Drederich Diedrichsen, in a review of a record called Roots and Locations by Car Gout’s band, Trespassers W [FN2]. I found the record in Oxfam whilst making this show. When I decided to buy the record I also decided not to listen to it until afterwards, but reading the liner notes I learned that it was a concept album about a man and his son spending time together a city, The Hague. Immediately, I presumed the father to be my father’s father, William, Bill, and the son to be my father, Our Sam, Peter, Dad./ I Was at School -
My first performance was twenty two years ago, hiding under bird-hat made from red baseball cap with the letters B-M-X, yellow beak from an old Weetabix box, brown cloth for feathers. I had to ask them, each of them:
Where was is that we were together? / Who were you that I lived with, walked with? / The brother, the sister, the friend? / If I never meet you in this life, let me feel the lack / One glance from your eyes / and my life would be yours [FN3]/ Lecture on Carl Sandburg –
Part 1. Minutes, Seconds, and the Times of our Lives: Carl Sandburg considered himself a fine orator and like all fine orators, had opinions on everything and could not be made to shut up.
He would jump to his feet, grab his lapels, and make a speech, even if they had only asked for the time of day. He would say, ‘Time is a timeless concept and has led mankind badly astray, especially as we record age, which we do from the time of birth, and yet (...) it is not elapsed time that really concerns us, but time remaining, and that is something we cannot know. A youth of fifteen who will die tomorrow is older by far than an elder of seventy-three who has ten years remaining to him. So we should not concern ourselves with time, except as we must arrange meetings or journeys by public convenience.’ And then he would look at the watch and give them the time [FN4]
Part 2. The Landlocked Mountaintop and the Salt-Salt Sea: Carl Sandburg was “born” in Galesburg Ohio, on the 6th of January 1878, and “died” in Flat Rock, North Carolina, 22nd July 1967.Part 3. Silence
Both of these settlements were, and remain landlocked, but home, between 1945 and 1967, was a large estate named Connemara, where he lived with a wife and daughters.
At Connemara, Carl Sandburg had an entire Mountaintop to roam, and enough solitude to write. Connemara is derived from the Gaelic Con Mhac: of the sea.
Carl Sandburg fished but was never a fisherman, he sailed, but was never a sailor. So I think that his seas, like ours, were surely imagined.
(...)/ I Pictured a Story –
Carl Sandburg, I have something to say to you: ‘Wäschezettel’, an ordinary word in a language neither of us can speak. It is a word that was found by some children, playing in an abandoned building in the Netherlands after the Second World War. It is a word found after the danger had passed (Kerchief drop).
He's coming into focus / notices his unsteady feet on foreign soil / While my father is still in Bridlington I am in Vreedenburg, I am in Scheveningen, I have been standing there for years on end, whilst his sun was set, done for going, going gone.PHOTOGRAPHER photographs us in the pose from the Bridlington photo.
In Oxfam the other day I happened upon a record, a fine-looking, very well packaged record, the artwork reminded me of Do Make Say Think's Winter Hymn, Country Hymn, Secret Hymn, but it is actually called Roots and Locations, by a Dutch group, Trespassers W. It cost me £4.99
I looked in the Gatefold Sleeve and found: a / A record; b / A press release booklet; c / A Catalog of Trespassers W releases; d / A booklet the size of the sleeve with Lyrics and artwork; e / an A-5 sized photograph of the band, printed on AGFA photo paper,with the following written by hand:
photo: Ada Fesever
at 'The Memorial'
at The Hague
left -> right:
Hayo den Boest
Fran van den Bos
The Memorial says 1914-1919, and at the last line of it reads:
ZIJ ZIJN DAAR - WAAR NACHT NOCH NEVEL IS
The album artwork, is a score for my performance, a structure that is new to me.
The record is a concept album about "the city of The Hague set in the fifties, set around the story of a father and son". Then it says something about politics. It makes me think of that picture of my father, and his father (at Bridlington, not Blackpool. Brid). In the Roots and Locations Lyrics:
FROM 'THE MAN' "Until he turned around and found out / Until he turned around and found out" Then it says something about time. FROM 'THE PARK' "The bewildered child stormed into the waste ground (...) circled (...) three times / And then leaving" FROM 'THE ROOM' "Soundless movements (...) lines, white on paler white" FROM 'HEXIO PERFECTO DE LA LUXE' "Here come the pretty waitresses / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, La La La La La La La La La La La La / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, La La La La La La La La La La La / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, Life could be a dream, sweet".
Researching Trespassers W I found an interview with a member of the band (I think it was with Cor Gout), and the interviewee put in an image of a text of a song he had been working on (click on the picture to see it big and legible):
(the image comes from www.fictionalize.org/index.php?2006/03/01/5-trespassers-w).
The Interviewer asked him:
"Do you sometimes have what I call a feeling of "belonging" (when you feel totally well, your feet standing firmly on the ground and your head buzzing with ideas, just "in tune"?
Once again: the sunny day in the Scheveningen Wood feeling. Also: on a stage, when everything seems to fall in its place and things seem to be going on just by themselves. Or: riding on my bike, hearing the voices from the houses and the pavements tell me all sorts of secrets. Or: late at night, when segments of imagination come together in a totality with a ‘sound’ and a ‘rhythm’.
In the Carl Sandburg Poem, The Sea Hold, the one that I edited down, I cut the following line
"I am a loon about the sea,
So are five men I had a fish fry with once in a tar-paper shack trembling in a sand storm".
I think the five men that Carl Sandburg had the fish fry with were, left -> right:
Hayo den Boest
Fran van den Bos
In Neil's workshop (Tuesday Afternoon, 9.4.08) we were asked to write these cards to each other, things to get us out of trouble, difficulty: observations, commentaries, bits of advice, imaginings, situations. Two favourites: "You are passionate about all aspects of bird life but in particular, migration. You await the return of a favourite" and Simon: Do as you would be done by". And you have to ask: why this advice, why me? I am reminded, again, of my wrongs.
In Simone's workshop, we walked outside on the grounds of an old house by a field overlooking the motorway and the railway line. We were given a directive that said: Find 3 places to inhabit and 3 ways of inhabiting them, for up to 5 minutes each. Write for 1-2 minutes in response.
1 / fit in-or-around; 2 / blur the edges or merge; 3 / the body leaves a trace
In response to 2 / I spin your stillness, pull your crookedness into my bones and your decaded growing pains ache the muscles of my right arm (...) Look at me I'm dancing. Five crows, or black birds any way, soar at me as I outshine them. Leaves of grass. Leaves of grass.
Carl Sandburg's Legacy Touches Our LivesI'm making it my business so explore who I am, where I am going, and where I have been. I don't know a definitive answer to either one of these, but perhaps a being-24-hours-awake-in-Blackpool-finding-or-creating-a-structure-that-is-new-to-me-being
Carl Sandburg spent a lifetime exploring what it meant to be an American and asked the eternal questions, "Who am I, where am I going and where have I been?"... He did this through poetry, song, lectures, writing and lasting friendships with kindred spirits.