Salvage Rhythms I (2019, ongoing)

Live performance

Salvage Rhythms at Somerset House AGM (extract)

Salvage Rhythms I is part of a series of works which use live performance, film, text and collage to explore what we as humans can learn about new-world-building from observing the multispecies entanglements we are a part of. Specifically, how the other critters, organisms and intelligences we share this planet with come together in hidden, surprising and dynamic ways to form networks and create ways of surviving in increasingly damaged landscapes (for example how trees of the same species send messages to one another via networks of mycorrhizal fungi, enabling them to warn of potential danger or share nutrients; or how the matsutake mushroom thrives in forests disturbed by human activity). This research is influenced by the writings of Anna Tsing (specifically The Mushroom at the End of the World and Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet), Mel Y Chen (Animacies) and Donna Haraway (Staying With The Trouble).

“On the one hand I am full of admiration for the people who figured out how to survive despite the destruction of their forest. On the other hand, I can’t help but worry when the scrap metal will run out, and whether there will be enough other stuff in the ruins to make continuing survival possible. And while not all of us enact such a literal figuration of living in ruins, we mostly do have to work within our disorientation and distress to negotiate life in human-damaged environments. We follow salvage “rhythms” I mean forms of temporal coordination.”

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World’

Conceptually and choreographically it uses ideas based on symbiosis, sympoiesis and parasitism to produce ever changing structures, rhythms and compositions. Each work is part of an ongoing process of entanglement between bodies attempting to survive within a damaged landscape. Through the development of tasks and gestures seen established at the start of the process, we witness the bodies navigating, excavating and cultivating individual and shared spaces. In doing so they find ways to co-exist, cooperate and contaminate one another in both successful and failed attempts at new-world building.

The sound score is performed and composed live, in collaboration with musician Roly Porter. Together we draw upon a library of found sounds, archive tapes and field recordings to compose an aural landscape in direct conversation with the performing bodies. Contact mics underneath the performance flooring affect and add to the audio in real time.

“The work places bodies as entangled things enacting a sequence of melodic movements together and apart. Moving between vertical and horizontal planes in a way that only something that is attempting to grow can do. The group of performers, (Karen Callaghan, Samir Kennedy, Leah Marojevic) bind, contorting into one. As the piece unfolds one watches these bodies do strange things, some anecdotal, others more complex, intertwined, but no less hesitant. So much of how these movements unfold appear directed at developing a sense of language through the body. There are constant attempts towards something, as if Williams is working to discover a grammatical concept, where repetition is used in an uncertain, doubtful manner and then placed in context through a binding with other repetitions found elsewhere. The movements feel absorbed from a process of watching others and watching things as they grow and move around us. Their interactions feel combative, the rustling of hair, the intertwining of legs, as though they are wrestling with their desire to be one and singular at the same time. Only to unravel again.”

(extract from a review by Joshua Leon for FAD Magazine)

Exhibition history:
Somerset House Studios AGM, Somerset House, London, 2019

Salvage Rhythms is a collaboration with musician Roly Porter and performers Karen Callaghan, Leah Marojevic and Samir Kennedy.

Lighting design in collaboration with Studio Naama and costume in collaboration with HAiK.

Photographs by Sotiris Gonis.

Salvage Rhythms was commissioned by Somerset House Studios and supported by the Adonyeva Foundation.