Artist duo French & Mottershead’s remarkable audio work on the afterlife of the body grounds – literally – an evening of films, conversation and poetry, marking the one event in existence that everyone will finally attend. They will be joined by poet and cultural activist Chris McCabe, discussing his literary research into the lost talents of London’s great cemeteries.
Short films will include several culturally significant trailers marking both the Mexican day itself – today – and the greater force at work (since life is in many ways itself a trailer, for death, which lasts notably longer…). There will be a delirious animation. And a visionary Russian film. And some pictures of what happens to us. And some words about what happens to us. Since the whole experience is unknown to say the least, we’ll leave it at that for now. Featuring a Q&A with the artists.
Due to the nature of the material, a content warning is necessary. There will be images of bodies, and words about them.
Audio work, (21:30 mins) – from the ‘Afterlife’ series.
Woodland is a poetic and visceral work that describes your body’s fade into the leaf litter of the forest floor. This work connects you deeply to your body, and considers the biological and chemical processes that continue long after you are conscious, as you are slowly and gently subsumed by the earth over thousands of years. Woodland is a love poem to the woods and the forest, as bodies merge with the molecular environments that support life.
French & Mottershead are the UK artist duo Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead. Creating multi-artform experiences that are as playful and poetic as they are subversive, French & Mottershead invite participants to think again about who they are, and their ties to place and one another.
Over the past 18 years French & Mottershead have developed a substantial body of socially-engaged, visual and participatory projects in site-specific contexts and locations. They have also shown work in galleries across the UK and internationally, including Tate Modern; The Photographers Gallery; Salt, Istanbul; Centro Cultural São Paulo; and Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PiCA). Video, performance, photography and sound are used to create tangible narratives borne out of rigorous research, working with experts to harness knowledge on a chosen subject. The roles of participants are frequently directed and framed, inviting them to become active collaborators in artworks that disturb and develop their sense of self.
Chris McCabe was born at Mill Road Hospital in Liverpool, in 1977, on the site of a Victorian workhouse. His poetry collections are The Hutton Inquiry, Zeppelins, THE RESTRUCTURE (all Salt Publishing) and, most recently, Speculatrix (Penned in the Margins). He has recorded a CD with the Poetry Archive was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides, Pharmapoetica. He is writing a series of creative non-fiction books that aim to discover a great lost poet in one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries. This began in 2014 with In the Catacombs: a Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery (which was selected as an LRB Bookshop book of the year) and was followed in 2016 with Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery. With Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21 st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015).