The following text in the Italic is verbatim Pagel’s text emailed to me after the performance, I placed Jordan Hutchings’s photographs when they relate to his words.
My performance tried to make however small a comment on all the horrible mis- and disinformation our government saw fit to disburse or allow to be posited unchecked over the last few months.
My white coverall suit had a logo on my back, spelling “Foreign=Sic!”, added to which I presumed to be from the “Jobs Theft Unit”, written circularly around the misspelling of “forensic”; I also adapted the shape of the London Underground (!) signage for my logo.
The populist movement, sadly growing everywhere in Europe, is fascinated by (pseudo-) forensics, especially those of a financial nature, as in forensic accounting: who spent how much on things considered luxuries or unnecessary public expenditure, such as orchestras, the Arts, and, of course, health and social service provision for the arch enemy of the populists: MIGRANTS!
There is currently a useful support for Rainer Pagels’ focus on this subject – an exhibition in Paris – that an immigrant does not equal a parasite, the life and work of Picasso’s friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
Born Wilhelm Apollinairs de Kostrowitzky in Rome in 1880, Apollinaire was the illegitimate grandson of a Polish nobleman in the service of the Pope. In France he came into writing, first in the south, where he spent his adolescence, and then in Paris, where the young poet spent the first decade of the 20th century struggling to support himself with a series of odd jobs, including as a bank teller, tabloid journalist…. accessed on http://hyperallergic.com/310920/apollinaire-the-immigrant-poet-who-shaped-the-parisian-avant-garde
Therefore my word play with “foreign” and forensics; “sic!” one can read as the Latin “Sic!” or as the English word missing a “k” at the end; I had the Latin version in mind.
I am convinced that the migrant population in the UK, especially that from other EU countries, does contribute vastly more to the coffers of the UK than certain parties claim. (I myself have only ever needed UK state support for some six month in a 43 year long career in Northern Ireland, all the time having paid my taxes.)
My performance on 7/7/16 on Ballymccormick Point consisted of my finding a suitable place or a space for my actions at the start of the day. On what would later become an island (!), close to the other artists, I set up a folding table and chair, and placed on the table: a can of spray glue, a jar with dissolved shellac, a booklet of gold leaf, and two brushes.
Next, I scanned the ground and rocks around me.
The mainly black shale pieces made me notice that many of them were shaped like arrowheads and chevrons. I collected seven such stones and laid them out on a black piece of rubberised (non-slip) material to the left of the folding table on the ground. I also chose an almost perfectly round, 8th stone of approximately 15 cm diameter.
Taking up the first of the collected stones, I applied the glue and gold leaf to it and placed it back on the black material. I continued to do this with the following stones, but after every second gilding, I applied a protective cover of shellac over the gilded stones. (Apart from Tony Hill, these days only a few local people know about shellac, its application and how to use it to create a proper French Polish. My maternal grandfather taught me the skill over many summer holidays in the 60s.)
Having gilded all eight stones, I searched for a flat area of slightly more than 7m diameter. A muddy stretch of sand behind my station suited.
I placed the round gilded stone centrally and then measured 3.5m distance from it seven times, placing the gilded stones pointing outwards of the emerging circle. I roughly adjusted the distance on the perimeter of the circle between the seven gilded stones to be equal and left the circle to be submerged by the floods, perhaps to be rediscovered by passers-by on some other day. Gold, a natural element, fixed with shellac, made from the excretions of a small beetle, placed back in nature by an immigrant, to be marvelled over by the indigenous dog walkers with their dogs fouling the shore.
I then gilded seven empty limpet shells and placed them randomly in the streams close by.
My next action was to choose items, which would resemble Stone Age implements, such as axes and knives. Using a boomerang-shaped stone, I fashioned seven stone implements that could be used to cut, point, stab, mark, scrape, score and write. It would have been my intention to gild them, as the other objects and leave them in the rocks, however, the tide changed my plans, and the rest of my performance became concerned with the rescue (small “r” only) of my fellow artists and looking after their physical needs (food).
Looking back, I am pleased with the outcome of seven artists (or 8, as we know now) spending seven hours on a day supposedly loaded with other references to the number 7. The tide surprised us all, and for me, made an interval (the food session) necessary.
My only criticism would be that the underlying idea of 1 in 1, 2 over 2, 3 over 3, etc did not have much more than the increasing numbers of artists and hours in common. I am not sure if James can spot a “red thread” of performance action throughout the year, once it finishes.
My dilemma throughout was to decide whether I was making a performance in parallel to six others, or if we were all constituent part of a greater whole. Apart from some interventions from Keike, my work happened in parallel to that of the others.
I also witnessed some of the other artists interacting with each other from time to time, much in the vane of Bbeyond’s monthlies.
I only made my work a shared action, when I left the gilding part of my performance and focused on nourishing and feeding the group.
All in all a great day and a wonderful experience.
12 July 2016
Rainer’s verbal contribution is self – sufficient in relation to the actions he chose to make. It could exist as a “Do-It” scenario. My seeing some of it makes for multiple and perhaps conflicting points of interest in the gravity of the emerging paradox as it reveals deep unrest and unconfessed torment.
The visual, esp. lettering, extended the action into the realm of socio-political context, which will not escape people with classical grammar school education. Not known how many of the men and women walking their dogs in the same area where the seven artists performered would have noted it. For me – the word play foreign /forensic/sic burned into my attention on the first look. The white overall expelled it out of its own surgically neutral sameness on the red and black rays of the hues.
The bon vivant hospitality (food) and handmade labouring with gold( painting it on stones) were repeatedly pierced by the words he wore. In a clash that stayed accessible to the sight and uncontrolled. Not unlike the migration of people in Europe and into Europe.
The gilding of found natural forms, stones, opens another subtext: he refers to it by refuting the accusation that people not born here are a burden for those indigenous ones. Gold on stone is a paradox, both gifts of nature, parts of the universe, their equality disabled by people judging gold as highly desirable, and stones as too plentiful to have much value. Yet – a house of stone is superior for living in – to that would be made of gold. To get gold out of the ground people poison soil and water. To get stone – they cut, disfigure and wound hills and pollute the air. Both have to be uprooted from the place where nature deposited them, to make each to work inside our hierarchy of values. And that’s the point – examine, analyse and change the current hierarchy of values to minimise harm. Pagel joins both gold and stone into one – and leaves them near where he found them. On the island, accessible only at the low tide. A simile for a “low-tide hierarchy of values” – as in words of Schumacher “Small is beautiful” or Buckminster -Fuller’s insistence that design has to make sure that people share resources….
Judging quality of people by their racial, social, national origin and not by what they do, how they live and support lives of others, is a paradox. How to solve it? Refutation of the belief that one nationality is above another, one race is below another – should be accessible to most. The ease – with which Pagel selects stones and shells – as equal, as similar, as capable of accepting the adornment by the precious gold without losing their original values. They carry the weight of gold -effortlessly. A lesson for us? A classical theme. My interest is thus anchored in the reciprocal interplay between objects and thoughts – person’s and their right to be. This is a traditional thought: Leonardo thinks of the visual as rays that both penetrate the depth of what is seen and bounce back gazing out from what is seen.
Tristan Tzara, in parallel fashion, claimed that the hope of Dada was to strike two contradictory elements together – to forge a previously unrelated similarity. Gold and stone stand as a metaphor for hierarchy between autochthonous and strange (etranger). A similar concern appears in a number of works of art after the WWI – e.g. Marino Marini suggests that we combine “disparate images” and discover “hidden analogies”.
Pagel’ performance is sensitive to the possibility of re-occurance of the forces that led to conflict. His call is for whichever way people will improve communication and transformation away from inherited bias.
And no – he does not prescribe how to condense energy needed for that transformation. This performance hails common ancestors: some stones picked up, looked like stone age axes, the brushing shellac over the gold in the way medieval journeymen learnt from one another, while listening to Troubadours and Minnesingers. The gilded stones are left by this immigrant as a gift to others, as a lament for understanding.
Images Jordan Hutchings