Pomps of the Subsoil 2015

Performance presented at Festival Escena Poble Nou, Barcelona with Lesley Yendell, Juliette Murphy, Natàlia Espinet, Denys Blacker, Montse Seró y Mireia Zantop. Photos by Claudia Serrahima.

We meet in the hall where we will be performing in Poble Nou, Barcelona. We have each come prepared to make a ninety-minute performance with our own objects and props. The title Pomps of the Subsoil is taken from a painting by the painter Leonora Carrington, chosen because it portrays a group of bird-headed women, but we are not using it as a reference in the work. Each artist has prepared their own individual performance alone, but now we will present them together in the same space. We have had no contact or communication between us about what we will do beforehand. We will begin working simultaneously, each allowing our movements and objects to overlap and interfere until a group consciousness arises. The planned work will give way to improvisation and interaction as time goes on. This is the first time we have seen the room we will be performing in. There are windows on all sides but it will be dark when we begin. We unpack our bags, while watching each other and the array of objects that begin to appear in the space. There is an air of positive anticipation, a good feeling. Lesley has brought a tray of small beautifully tied white paper parcels, labelled with the royal names of vegetables. Juliette is covered by a dark blue cloak. Later during the performance when she takes it off, we see she is covered in more than eighty small, white origami birds, a dark blue wimple tied to her head by a mass of black ribbon. Mireia takes out a white cloth and lays out a row of pale wooden kitchen objects, then a ball of white raffia. She places a stainless steel bowl full of coins onto a zebra-striped cushion. Montse has brought dried leaves and is wearing blue. She has blue bags full of blue feathers hanging round her neck. I have brought white objects and on the floor around me I place my long white cloth sleeves, a woven length of white porcelain strips, a white porcelain cone on a red velvet cushion, two planks of wood, a ball of white wool, one white cushion, scissors, a hammer, string and nails. Natalia opens her suitcase and reveals two red notebooks, some pens and a copy of The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. She has several dresses, red and black. We can’t help noticing that nearly all of the objects spaced around the room are white or pale. Marta is absent, but she has written to us an email. When we open it afterwards, we read that she was planning to bring “white offerings for each one; flour for Lesley, salt for Mireia, sugar for Denys, and talcum powder for Madame Juliette”. Before we even begin, this whiteness is noticeable, is it a telepathic connection between us? Is it by chance or design?

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