Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Simulacrum by Dawn Felicia Knox

Donned in waterproofs, hiking boots and a head torch, along with a group of other art adventurers, I boarded the minibus destined for Walltown Quarry, where we would witness a commissioned performance by the Noize Choir as part of Simulacrum, the latest work by artist Dawn Felicia Knox.

After a day of torrential rain, it finally stopped just in time for the outing. In what seemed like the middle of nowhere, the sky was clear and dark. The group gathered together to begin our journey to the installation. Hundreds of little firelights created a winding path leading to the structure built of over 8,000 obsolete books. On the way, we stopped to enjoy a couple of performances by Noize Choir who performed "a site-specific sound composition drawing from diverse narratives of the project layered into a rich sound-scape." In the final performance the choir were inside the sculpture, hardly visible apart from the light emitted by the fire lanterns they were holding. Gradually the performers emerged from the structure made from books, and read from some of the texts included in the installation.

Dawn Knox says of the installation, "The structure echoes the precision and geometry of the Roman defensive structures found along Hadrian’s Wall in contrast to the subsuming natural environment. As designed, the sculpture began to decay almost immediately – the rain has permeated the pages, the sun has cracked the covers and insects and spores have begun to colonize the books. This mirrors the act of ruination of the ancient monuments themselves, be it at an accelerated pace. Along with the notions of impermanence and preservation, the work explores the ideas of language, migration and the materialisation of knowledge and experience through the written word."

The journey to and from the artwork really added to the wonder of the piece. The passageway of lights was magical and helped visualise the lead up to the installation.

The fact that this was a one off event in a remote place at night had the effect of making my experience seem all the more memorable.

 One felt valued to be 

This project was created in partnership with Hadrian Arts Trust and funded by the Arts Council England and Northumberland National Park.

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