Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Darkness and isolation

A new year and new challenges. The first two months of 2014 have brought the exciting opportunity of a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden to develop a piece of performance poetry as part of their winter residency programme.

The theme of the winter residency programme, ‘Darkness and Isolation’ raises a lot of questions. What kind of isolation are we referring to? Isolation can be physical, environmental, social, political. Some kinds of isolation can be factual, many other kinds are more a feeling, an experience, a perception. Isolation is also a relative concept and we need to ask ourselves in relation to what we feel isolated. These questions are particularly important to me as my background is in rural development. Surely, living in remote rural communities can be isolated in a physical sense, but I question whether inhabitants necessarily feel isolated socially and culturally. The Land Reform legislation has even taken a step towards addressing issues of political and economic isolation by giving communities the opportunity to buy land hand and thereby take control over a communities’ destiny. Though many communities feel this may be too big a step, this legislation may effect their experience of political and economic isolation. At the same time, city living can be an isolated experience as many people hardly know their neighbours and the less well-off are marginalised. The poet Meg Bateman captures this particularly well in her poem Remoteness in which she describes where you can find remoteness nowadays: “in the towerblocks between motorways/where people are removed,/ edged out from power”.

As part of my project Said in Stone last summer, I wrote around twenty poems in which I tried to capture the experiences and stories related to stones of a variety of real and imagined people in Grampian. When I reflected on these poems it struck me that, in one way or another, most of the poems dealt with issues of – what I call – embeddedness, that is, the experience of belonging to a certain place, time and community. To me, embeddedness and isolation are head and tail of the same coin. Though equally contested, I feel that embeddedness may have more positive connotations than isolation. During my residency at SSW I will thus use the term isolation to respond to the theme ‘Darkness and Isolation’.

To add to the art forms that I can use in my community music work, and because I enjoy writing, I’ll work in the medium of performance poetry during the residency. When I wrote the poems for Said in Stone and for the video poem Wind, Willow, Water, the musicality of poetry stood out for me. In carving out my own approach to performance poetry I want to capitalise on this musicality and borrow ideas from performance art about ways in which perceived barriers between a performer and the audience can be broken down through the creative use of space and giving the audience a role in the performance. I will showcase my work during an informal performance on Friday 14 February at SSW.

Other posts about the residency at Scottish Sculpture Workshop are:
The music of poetry 
Pottery and claypipe
Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst

No comments:

Post a Comment