Tuesday, June 24, 2014


So because of a combination of illness, poverty, and family stuff, I was unable to spend much time visiting Dark MOFO this year. This is not to be taken as a criticism of ticket prices, as they seemed quite reasonable considering what was on offer. No this is much more a comment on my own inability to look after myself. Surely a topic for later essay.

I did get to see the Memoriam by Amelia Rowe, which I wrote about here.

If you lived anywhere in the area you were able to see the light installation Articulated Intersect. An artwork by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Living in Dodges Ferry we could see the dancing beams of light from our back yard.

The family went to Okines Community House to take part in the Okines Community Gardens Winter Feast. This too could be seen as a festival of light. Hundreds of glass jars were turned into lanterns and decorated by the local children. The kids paraded down to the the aptly, if unsurprisingly, named Okines Beach. Local husband and wife duo Serena and Andy How killed it with a cover of “Ramble On”, while later Bigger Than Bill played. In the distance, searchlights danced and intersected in the waning crone moon solstice darkness. Fairy lights hung, like a failed spider web, from gum trees. Fires burnt in 44 gallon drums which had holes punched to create intersected patterns of rusting metal and flame. Light was all around; candles and flashlights, mobile phones, the flames in the hand built, bread roll baking, oven. And the light that was brought to life was overwhelmed, while teasing and dancing with the endless, bottomless, darkness of the sky, of the ocean.

In an interview with the Guardian the light installation artist noted that search lights were used as propaganda by Nazi's as part their infamous Nuremberg Rallies. As I was wandered, with the children, about Sullivans Cove, we chatted about the use of search lights in other situations. I noted that search lights were used by the Red Army in the climactic, apocalyptic battles which ended the rule of Nazi Germany. Red Army Commander Zhukov described the use of searchlights in the famous night attack by the First Byelorussian Front. “We concentrated a huge striking force on the bank of the Oder: the supply of shells alone enough for a million artillery rounds on the first day of the storming. To stun the German defenses immediately, it was decided to begin storming at night with the use of powerful searchlights. Finally the famous night of April 16 began. No one could sleep. Three minutes before zero hour we left our dugout and took up places at our observation posts. To my dying day I will remember the land along the Oder, blanketed in Aprii fog. At 500 A.M. [0300 Berlin time] sharp it all began. The Matyushas struck, over 20,000 guns opened fire, hundreds of bomber planes roared overhead. . . and after 30 minutes of fierce bombing and shelling, 140 anti-aircraft searchlights employed every 650 feet in a line, were turned on. A sea of light swept over the enemy, blinding them, and pointing out in the darkness the objects of attack for our tanks and infantry.”

We meandered along the waterfront, and stumbled upon the work by Chinese contemporary artist Yin Xiuzhen, [URL] Washing River 2014. Blocks of ice were made from the polluted water of the Derwent River. Passersby were invited to, using a variety of cleaning implements, clean the water, as the ice melted and the water returned to the river, to the barren ocean. This artwork highlights the need to clean the river.

So, after my Okine and my MONA experiences, I thought a lot about light, and noted the many relationships with light and dark and colour. As I walked around the city I noted the reflections of the traffic lights in the windows of the ships and offices, and how this light was distorted by the imperfections in the glass. I noted how the light smeared and spread in the puddles on the ground, in the darkness of river stretching out, how the lights of the houses on the mountain spread up the ridge, and then fell away into the deep frightful darkness of the unsettled forest. I noted the dust and small insects flying in and out and around and about the bright searchlight beams. And the light warming my hands in front of the burning fire in the oil drums.

Omnia quae sunt, lumina sunt. Eriugena. All things that are, are light. And I thought of light and how much we depend upon and are light. From the burning of the sun, to energy converting single celled algae.

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