I am exhibiting in a show this Autumn called 24/7.
The cheeky duo- Tereza Valentova and Alice Vandeleur-Boorer- from Bristol UK, find it hard to stay out of trouble.
Even though their ad-hock experiments are crude and unplanned and they have already wasted a lot of public money on the emergency services they still manage maintain an air of professionalism and sweetness in nature. Even when taking bacteria samples from public urinals.
One of their projects “Body-Fermentations” is something most people would rather not know about with “Vagina Yoghurt” (working title) being their latest invention. They have made several batches using a mixture of D.I.Y. and Lab Grade mediums, the most successful being the homemade concoctions
Inspired by the world of microorganisms, performance art and culinary tradition, they have been investigating the cultures found on and inside their bodies and using them to ferment and preserve food.
Tereza Valentova, born in Czechs republic, now lives in Bristol and works by day (and Night) as a laboratory technician. Valentova (the brains) is so organized she also hosts community breakfast and knitting groups and recycling projects. Alice Vandeleur-Boorer (the dirt) was born in Devon and will most likely die there. VB is the master of odd jobs, signing on and loves lying around in the mud. Whilst being less organized then her partner in crime she also maintains an art practice of mostly performative and collaborative projects.
After sampling each others vagina yoghurts, Valentova and Vandeleur-Boorer are keen to discover new flavours and are working on creating amalgamations of other peoples cultures and milks……
Both Artists are still early on in development, but plan to exhibit work early next year in Bristol at a small local show. This project will be accompanied by other works which investigate the body, reproduction and the self.
We all need help.
Crisis brings people together.
When I was a child we used to play a game.
We were at war and there were two sides. We didn’t know where the enemy’s base was, and it was our duty to keep ours a secret. Whilst a few people stayed behind to guard, a few of us would venture out to attack. The enemy would do the same and the overall aim was to find the enemy base and fight until control was gained of their territory. If you failed you would be taken captive and the game often spiraled into a rescue mission.
We used silent hand signals, scouted for new information, spied silently and attacked with sticks and rope. I don’t remember learning these skills from anywhere, nor do I remember establishing any of the rules. Sometimes hours would go by without food or water. When one of our ‘men’ were taken captive the objective for retrieval was acute, and the sense of triumph of our success always seemed like the most rewarding part of the day. We returned home bruised, sunburned and thirsty but slept soundly knowing we had saved our comrades.
My current practice examines the body in relation to its context and site. During an emergency the person in distress is surveyed in relation to the dangers that they are in. Building bonds through collective problem solving are essential to a healthy community. I would like to investigate crisis and help in regard to:
- Analysis of crisis
- Execution of help
- Can we breakdown these stages of human responses to crisis and help for everyday tasks?
- When does crisis end and help begin?
- How important is are our instinctive reactions to a problem solving.
All of these projects are form my hometown, Bristol.
Rogue Game, Spike Island.
Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley with Can Altay
Rogue game consisted of 4 events where 3 different games (five a-side basketball, football and volleyball) were played simultaneously.
“The gallery is presented as a space for spectacle and action, a setting for new communities to come together and for developing alternative frameworks for co-habitation through the informal and unplanned possibilities of play.”
Like my project, Rogue Game allows participants to display their “gaming instincts” in a live art format. Instead of using competition, HELP-SOS employs the need for a common goal though rescue.
Prison Break, The College Project
Collaborative, not-for-profit project.
“Our headline piece, Prison Break – The Game, is an immersive game/experiencial theatre piece performed over two sites (and a prison bus) on the 23rd, 24th and 25th March, featuring a huge cast of prison guards, inmates, and other prison visitors. In the course of one night you will have an experience that would normally take 25 years to life….”
This event took place in my studio complex, which used to be a comprehensive school. The theatre group dressed the site as a prison and actors played the prison staff. The audience was part of the scene as it was their task to escape from prison. I would like to organise events that the public had immersive and adrenaline filled experiences, however HELP-SOS is a more of a sprawling research project where simpler and possibly more abstract experiments take place.
Kayle Brandon and Heath Bunting
“UPDATE: swine flu (H1N1) pandemic is here - evacuate to the wilds!
Sponsored Influenza Pandemic Evacuation Rehearsal (SIPER).
A summer camp for survivalists, 12-19 September 2005”
SIPER documents the research, strategy and rehearsal of a potential flu epidemic evacuation. The project exists in the participation and documentation of the investigations. There is an acute objective for survival, and the tasks are performed with ‘tongue and cheek’ humour. The HELP-SOS project will reflect the use of research and development of strategy in a crisis. However it will also monitor the unpredictable results achieved through the frenzy of an urgent task and hopefully involve collective problem solving.
Both my mother and myself were born in Braunton. The places I have ventured on foot from there, are part of a well-trodden network of routes passed on through generations. I spent the first 18 years of my life living in the village of Braunton. When I was growing up I used to walk because it gave me independence and time to think about the world in my own way.
North Devon is my home but I have no idea where the border of Devon begins or ends. I understand Devon as an idea, a string of locations and memories of journeys of which I have become familiar as my home territory. Those memories are rich with concepts and ideals of the moment, which effect colour, perspective and all features. I have no proof or certainty that any account of a place in my memory is accurate. The names I give the places and journeys have blurred boundaries that seem to stop within the limits of what I can remember.
Horsey island: The marsh Residents.
Walking through the marshes used to be my favourite hobby. The place had its charms. The bird varieties are endless, and my dog loved to swim in the river but there was one thing that kept me returning to walk along the bank of the river named horsey island.
I could see the boats from a distance but often I could not tell if anybody was home until I passed right by the shapely hulls. Daydreams of sailing beyond the estuary have always been a re-occurring fantasy. Then, My favourite sailor had a little black vessel. He was often on his own and I had a feeling that there was only room for one in his life. As I walked by he would instinctively look up from what ever he was doing to see who was passing. I would give a shy smile, maybe even a tentative wave. He would smile back, return the wave with his hands, all blackened with engine oil.
The most nostalgic and happiest memories of my childhood are from the endless summers at crow point. To reach our playground we ventured through the marshes on the only toll road I knew. Most of the time we would sneak round the back of the tollhouse, as we would never remember to bring any money. The marshes are made from land claimed back from the sea and the time always seemed stolen when we hurried to base camp.
Crow point is a peninsular of dunes and beach, which forms the north bank of the taw estuary. To reach the sea from the marshes one followed a slatted boardwalk that winded its way through the dunes. On the low tide vast rock pools are exposed around the bay rich with anemones, shrimps and crabs hidden amongst heaps of seaweed. “The bar” is a sand spit, which juts from the seemingly endless sand world covered with marram grasses. As a child the dunes seemed far bigger than they do now. From some viewpoints the scale if the dunes were completely warped. Some evenings I could have sworn that the skyline looked just like Himalayas.
The tools that were needed on a day of crow point were made from items readily available around the bay. Discarded fishing nets of all grades webbed amongst the rocks, and banks of driftwood formed a heavy tide line. I can’t remember learning how to catch a crab; it was something we always did. We used limpets as bait and I used to squirm when we knocked them from their rock and gauged out the fleshy insides of the animal.
The Burrows: A place of sanctuary
Braunton Burrows, or otherwise known as “The Burrows”, are called this because they are full of rabbit holes. It is a wild and eerie kingdom of dunes home to rare and common flora and fauna. Rabbits colonized the lunar landscape when the Normans brought them over for game and humans have always been visitors. The Dunes in North Devon fringe the west coast of the district, and are separated into sections by rocky headlands. This particular stretch is the largest and most diverse in the UK, and has high status in the naturalist community.
As well as being visited by scientists, the site is often occupied by the military. It’s not unusual to come across piles of bullet cases littered from training exorcises, or having close encounters with a soldiers creeping stealthily through the grass. Despite the delicate plant species and ancient dune structures the army have been training on the site since world war two and for the current conflicts the sandy stretches used for desert training. The land is owned by local aristocracy and is rented to the military for a high price. Civilians are able to walk on the dunes as a public right of way. This is usually dog walking but there are also popular sites for Naturism in the summer. On Clear Days when the sea is like a millpond, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
A huge dune system like Braunton Burrows is a disorienting place. I have been lost many times, with only the direction of the sea to orient myself. The pathways are almost as extensive as the rabbit warrens; I have spent endless hours drifting around these tracks, in a midst of a rambling haze. There are established routes that are used by many people, but its possible to follow Land rover tracks that are made by military vehicles or even paths overgrown with ferns and brambles.
“The Burrows” is one of the wildest place’s I know. The dunes allow privacy in the miniature valleys, and the insects along with the sound of the water breaking, provide a soothing background murmur. When we ‘escape’ we are looking for diversion from the banal aspects of daily life, often to find sanctuary or chaos. It is a thriving ecosystem alien to my habitat and acts as an alternative reality. This is why I can escape here. Time passes differently, neither faster or slower to my civilian life; the space offers the solitude required for the meditative practice of putting one foot in front of the other.
I don’t believe in fate, I much prefer to imagine that, like particles, we are moving around in random directions. Our collisions with other things: objects, people, ground, water, air are what construct our reality. Nothing is planned. However, when I bumped into Zoe in a cafe, I felt we had a common purpose.
Zoe is UK contemporary artist, working in interdisciplinary mediums and she is working on a few very interesting projects. You can see these on her website:
She mentioned one project where she was looking for volunteers to participate. This project is based in Devon and is called “Moving Stories”:
I consider myself a passionate walker, and have always used walking as a part of my creative expression and existential development. Walking and talking go together just like cheese and chutney. I walk with old friends because I can give them the quality of attention they deserve, and I walk with new friends as intimacy is important when creating bonds with others. Someone who I cherish my walks with is my Mother. She is whom i inherited my infatuation and this is why I invited her to collaborate with me to participate in the “Moving Stories” project.
Zoe asked myself and my mother to write a short statement about memories we have surrounding walks in and around our home, Devon. We both chose to write about a circular walk starting and ending in Braunton, the village that we were both raised and hold our ancestry in.
Writing is something I have always enjoyed, but gaining confidence in my skills has always been hard. Since leaving education, I had only written proposals and applications. Because of the nature of creative writing, I did not feel confined by any rules or structure during the project. Writing about places in home allowed me to explore my memories creatively.
As a practicing artist, I value working with other artists on different projects. These experiences have become part of a platform of discussions within my practice, whilst contributing to a wider cause. The task was reflective and helped bridge a gap between myself, and the places in my memory that I had started to forget.
This is what my Mum thought.
"I was encouraged to meet Zoe by my daughter Alice, also an artist. They had met in Bristol and as Alice and I love to walk she thought that we could both participate in this project. It was a surprise to me that I was able to write a short piece about a favourite walk. I have not written anything like this for many years, and I found that the process of writing allowed me to remember some long forgotten experiences and feelings. We had an enjoyable time walking and chatting about the area and managed to record some dialogue. I wish Zoe all the best with the project."
The transition from Bristol to Canterbury took me to the opposite side of the country. To reach the site i had to travel over plains of Southern England, through the gateway (or rather, void) of London and then spat out on the high speed rail of the east. It wasn't like I had to cross oceans or invisible lines, but from the moment I stepped off the train I felt like a stranger. This was not a suprise, I didn't know anyone.
I was sent to Canterbury by a Bristol based arts collective. Sondryfolk had recently migrated from the city famous for it pilgims and arranged for my to stay in a woodland district bordering the Canterbury area. I was welcomed by small group of people, settled amongst an arbortorium of conifers called The Pinetum.
I spoke at length with residents of the Pinetum – about it’s history, how they felt about their woodland home and what the trees meant as a collection rather than a natural eco-system. One of the residents felt that the trees reminded him of refugees, out of context from their homeland. This was not far from the truth as these specimens (the trees!) represent countries from all over the world.
After considering issues concerning the role of the foreigner, I came across a term "existential nomadism" wherein decedents of refugees suddenly feel that they do not belong and decide to continue on their journey. I staged perfomative photographs where I took on the role of a conifer working through an existential experience. Within this theatrical scenario the conifer appears unsettled and unhappy. It then abandons its identity as a conifer and moves on to an unknown place. This artwork can been seen in my portfolio and is currently on display in Sondryfolk’s House of Curious Engagements. Both projects share an interest in the ‘home’ and sense of belonging.
The Pinetum is a collection of conifers from all over the world and some of the trees are extremely old and rare. The residency was hosted by the Sondryfolk collective. it was conducted to mark the collective's transition from Canterbry to Bristol. Sondryfolk decided to send a Bristol based artist on a pilgrimage to Caterbury. I was selected as my practice was currently investigating displacement of body and place which related to the nomadic essence of Sondryfolk. They gave me one task, which was to have bath Swedish style.
The site was mainly three parts: deciduous ancient woodland, medieval coppice, and the Pinetum. The Pinetum floor was an emerald green lawn. The deciduous woodland floor was covered in hazel leaf litter and brambles. Throughout, there were thousands early bluebell shoots which permeated the woodland floor. This was the only sign of spring as the weather was damp, cold and very windy. Every morning, mist would veal the trees, and before sun rose, the Pinetum air hung still and wet amongst the piny figures.
Friend or Foe?
During my stay a storm passed through the woodland. The wind battered the wooden hut that I sheltered in. It was during this storm and in the dead of night that I became most excitable. That evening I ventured out into the Pinetum in hope of experiencing the woodland in a different way. The rain hit my face in sheets. The heavy, velvety sky was crowded with swaying silhouetted branches, and the Pinetum groaned with the rushing sound of wind blowing through needles.
When I returned to the hut, I lit a fire to warm the room. After I left the dark and boisterous outdoors to the security and warm shelter of the hut, I felt extremely relaxed. The wind and rain continued to thrash and flay as I settled down snugly in front of my little burner. Before that evening I felt like a stranger. After I had let myself playfully drift amongst the storm, the Pinetum and I were better acquainted
As a perfomance artist, the location plays an important role in my work. My practice is topologically routed in landscape which environmant and identiity are intengral. During my stay, I gathered and worked with materials that play a large part in the place’s identity.