Live Art Surgery (2006) Cornwell, UK
Newlyn Gallery and South Wharf, Penzance
Sarah Jane Pell
"Okay" signal between artist Sarah Jane Pell & diver supervisor Dive Instructor David Bell, Silver Dolphin Marine Conservation & Diving, Penzance. Video Andy Whall. Production Blair Todd. Installation support, Newlyn Gallery staff and Volunteers.
This performance emerged through an artistic residency to develop site specific live art and performance in and around Penzance, Cornwall, over three weekends, Summer 2006. Our provocation was: Tract 1n. An expanse of land or water. Anatomy: A system of organs and tissues that together perform a specialized function: the respiratory tract. A bundle of nerve fibers having a common origin, termination, and function. Archaic. A stretch or lapse of time. My interpretation of 'Tract' related to the Aquabatic body as it is inclusive of the human body and a body of water. Aquabatics suggests the sovereignty to the self be resigned to concentrate the body of water.
Hydrophilia II, 2006 by Sarah Jane Pell, Live Art Surgery Festival, South Quay, Newlyn Harbour Penzance UK.
"The other performers in the first weekend of Tract Live Art festival tended to look to the past for inspiration. Sarah Jane Pell, on the other hand seemed to draw on an uncertain technological future, and all the tension, paranoia and anxiety that goes with this. Fittingly, the dark night sky gave her performance an expansive and anonymous backdrop. Those who attended found Sarah dressed in black, urgently briefing an entourage of technicians and assistants under a spotlight, standing on the roof of the cabin of a large boat. On her head was a clear Perspex sphere, like a giant goldfish bowl, that was filled slowly with saline solution. The process was amplified by a microphone so that the harbour resounded with gurgling noises. Sarah breathed by means of a small mouthpiece and as the sphere filled and became heavier her face became more and more distorted. Once full it was hooked onto a wire so it was supported, and Sarah attempted to achieve a state of tranquility and calm, before the sphere was once again emptied of water. She was then wrapped in survival blankets and driven off in the back of a van. There was little that was comforting or reassuring about this performance. At one level, whilst inside the sphere, Sarah was stripped of her humanity. Gagged by the water, she could not speak or breath properly, and could only communicate using hand gestures. There was also the ever-present possibility of drowning which added tension, and made the audience complicit in an act that was potentially dangerous. There was no easy reading of this work. Whilst the context of the harbour seemed to bring out certain obvious maritime themes, these were less important than the seductive and fetishistic visual impact it made, together with the feeling of unease it induced in the audience. This unease was undoubtedly a manifestation of some of the deep-seated fears that it tapped into." - Curator Andy Whall
A BEAPworks Research & Development Grant made possible by ArtsWA through the Australia Council: the Australian Government Arts & Advisory Service and Lotteries West supported this work. This work is part of the Aquabatics Research Team initiative (ARTi) and in part, may have informed PhD research.⇐ Return to Performances ⇐ Return to Exhibitions