Searching for Empedocles
Islington metalworks, 7 Torrens St. London
Curator: Nathalie Hambro
This was my first ever solo show. It combined film installation, stills photography, and sculpture made over a ten year period. Empedocles,born in Sicily c. 492 BC, was a philosopher, visionary, magician, orator, and self proclaimed elevated being, who is best known for the origination of cosmogenic theory.This idea established that all structures in the world are made from varying quantities of four ultimate elements – earth, fire, air, & water.
My fascination with Empedocles was synonymous with the creation of my 360-degree film Iddu (2007). Coincidentally Stromboli, the volcanic island where Iddu was made, affords a unique opportunity for observing the interaction between the four elements. The viewer experiences the work from a vulnerable central position within the space, and is constantly surrounded and seduced by images of ‘heaven and hell’, where fear from ‘turbulent nature’ can invoke a feeling of the Sublime. Iddutook five years to complete, during which time Graham invited Japanese sound artist Akio Suzuki to perform on the island with his analapos,a veritable Aeolian harp, incorporating this into the final soundtrack of the work.
For each of my Suspended Animation sculptures, I attempt to allude to the living qualities of stone. Every flint contains a naturally made hole which ancients believed possessed healing qualities, and the sculptural forms resemble warped skeletal frames imperceptibly hovering above the ground. My film Losing Seahenge (1999)clearly laments the sacrilegious removal of a 4000 year old burial site to a sterile ‘geological zoo’, alerting the viewer to the inexplicable living quality and power that this site and monument used to possess with its extraordinary upturned oak altar, now lost for ever as a result of its autopsy and excavation.
Having trained in traditional photography and filmmaking, I particularly enjoy the interface between analogue processes and high end technology.Recently, many of my projects like Albion (2006), and the ongoing Voyage print series, have been made uniquely using polaroid, which is believed to be the only visual medium to successfully capture the energetic field of a place or person. Likewise my latest project Pilgrimage (2009) was created during a five day walk along the St.Michael ley-line that runs from the tip of Cornwall, through Glastonbury Tor & Avebury, to Bury St.Edmundsand the Eastern tip of Norfolk.
It is said that in order to prove his immortality, Empedocles attempted to make his body vanish by jumping into the volcanic flames of Etna. The exhibition Searching for Empedocles does not attempt to answer this enigma but demonstrates a quest for ‘resonance’ and ‘intuition’ through little known & unusual phenomena in landscape.