Darkness Visible is an immersive cinematic and performance event exploring darkness, perception and poetic narrative.
After spending a week alone in his studio living and drawing in complete darkness, artist Sam Winston was so fascinated and inspired that he began to wonder what would happen if he introduced other creative practitioners to a similar experience. What disappears when the conventional visual field is no longer available and what arises in its place? What breaks down and what is exposed? What happens in the ‘return’ to full sensory engagement and what imprints from blackout remain?
The event features Winston’s investigations and insights in collaboration with the photographer Andy Sewell, composer Jamie Perera and film-maker Anna Price and culminates in live readings by poets Emily Berry, Kayo Chingonyi and George Szirtes. It will draw us temporarily into total obscurity and offer some reflections and interpretations on the potent but frequently overlooked world beyond vision. (The evening incorporates periods of complete blackout and silence.)
The immersive exhibition of the same name continues at the Southbank Centre until 25 March (free booking here]
Sam Winston’s practice is concerned with language not only as a carrier of messages, but also as a visual form in and of itself. Initially known for his typography and artist’s books he now employs a variety of different approaches including drawing, performance and poetry. Operating at the intersections of where visual art and literature meet his projects can result in limited edition art books, (found in institutes such Tate Britain, the British Library, MoMA NYC) or participatory projects involving large-scale drawing and typographic collages. These have been exhibited and taken place at institutes such as The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Southbank Centre, and Camden arts Centre. His first mass market book won the Bologna Ragazzi Award for fiction, debuted at no.5 on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 20 languages. All Winstons projects look to playfully explore new ways of reading.
George Szirtes was born in Hungary and emigrated to England with his parents—survivors of concentration and labor camps—after the 1956 Budapest uprising. Szirtes studied painting at Harrow School of Art and Leeds College of Art and Design. At Leeds he studied with Martin Bell, who encouraged Szirtes as he began to develop his poetic themes: an engaging mix of British individualism and European fluency in myth, fairy tale, and legend. Szirtes’s attention to shape and sound, cultivated through his background in visual art and his bilingual upbringing, quickly led to his successful embrace of formal verse. His first book, The Slant Door (1979), won the Faber Memorial Prize. Bridge Passages (1991) was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. Reel (2004) won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and his New and Collected Poems was published by Bloodaxe in 2008. He is the author of Exercise of Power (2001), a critical study of the artist Ana Maria Pacheco. He co-edited, with Penelope Lively, New Writing 10 (2001). Szirtes has written extensively for radio and is the author of more than a dozen plays, musicals, opera libretti, and oratorios.
Emily Berry’s first book of poems, Dear Boy, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Hawthornden Prize. She was a contributor to The Breakfast Bible (a compendium of breakfasts) and editor of Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt Publishing). A selection of her work appears in Penguin Modern Poets 1: If I’m Scared We Can’t Win (Penguin, 2016). Her second poetry collection, Stranger, Baby, is shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She edits The Poetry Review.
Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and his first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus. He was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016. He has co-edited issue 62 of Magma Poetry and the Autumn 2016 edition of The Poetry Review. He is now poetry editor for The White Review. Kayo is also an emcee, producer, and DJ and regularly collaborates with musicians and composers both as a poet and a lyricist. ‘His language is wonderfully searching, his imagery a series of small doors opening onto a whole house echoing with harmonic play and set with delicate rhythmic trip wires.’ – Jane Draycott (Judge’s Commentary – Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2012)
‘By day four, I was having a vacation from normality’ Sam Winston
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