About

Incidents (of Travel) explores the chartered day-long travel itinerary as a format of artistic encounter and an extended conversation between curator/s and artist/s.

An expanded phase of a project conceived by Latitudes (Barcelona) in 2012, this new series of tours is conceived as fieldwork and an expanded studio visit. It is presented as reportage and dispatches from invited curators and artists working around the world.

Destinations

Yerevan, Armenia

Curator: Marianna Hovhannisyan
Studio College: National Center of Aesthetics

Terengganu, Malaysia

Curator: Simon Soon
Artist: chi too

Lisbon, Portugal

Curator: Pedro de Llano
Artist: Luisa Cunha

Suzhou, China

Curator: Yu Ji
Artist: Xiao Kaiyu

Jinja, Uganda

Curator: Moses Serubi
Artist: Moshen Taha

Chicago, USA

Curator: Yesomi Umolu
Artist: Harold Mendez
Photos by: Nabiha Khan

Incidents (of Travel)

Curator

Artist

Camila Marambio

Lucy Bleach

Introduction

Itinerary

Hobart, Tasmania

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To be in the company of Lucy Bleach is to be in the hands of someone gentle and profound. Lucy is a carer and has an innate way to make moving around Tasmania and relating to others seem easy. After meeting her in 2015 she modestly invited me to respond to a piece of hers titled Remote Viewing (2015). I spontaneously wrote the 500 words requested of me by the publishers of the book Performing Mobilities, which took the same name as the exhibition in which Lucy collaborated with pigeons and their fanciers. A relay of swift actions was at the very core of Lucy’s work so my thoughts on Remote Viewing came equally fluidly.

As an archipelago, Tasmania is an open ended, fluid body that has many islands. Tasmania’s capital, Hobart, is often considered remote; to both Lucy and I, however, it feels like the adequate centre of the universe. Distant in time, operating by means of radio or infrared signals, accessible only via a network (of signifiers), unlikely to occur – these are all definitions of the remote. Reflecting back now on the incidents of our day together on the 28th March 2018, I am eerily aware of just how improbable things are. I mean this literally.

Pulsating from one site to another, Lucy and I traversed Hobart together in an unpredictably scripted manner. Lucy, who is passionate about volatility and inquires into deep geological time by studying geomorphological phenomena, humbly presented me with her knowledge of volcanoes, lava, and magma leading me on a quest to relate local geochemical and geophysical conundrums to the expansive solar system. Like the tides or the quickly changing weather, Lucy’s itinerary made me feel as if we, and everything around us, was changing so quickly that if we dared looked back upon a place already seen, it would no longer be there.

“Centuries ago, before language, in villages that were surrounded by deep forests, the adults would take the children to the edge of that forest and pinch their ear, just enough so that it really hurt. This allowed for the children to roam freely up to the barrier of what was considered the safe ground, there on that border they would feel pain and cease their adventuring.”

This is the story that Lucy narrated to me in the car on our way south out of Hobart as we headed towards Margate. Although she brought it up in answer to a question I had posed to her about myth-making – she said she had read it in Martin Warnke’s book the Political Landscape. The Art History of Nature (2004) – in hindsight, I feel she was forewarning me about the day ahead.

She was to take me to the cardinal edges of the city, but instead of pinching my ear at each site, Lucy thrust me outward, or deeply inward. Urging me to follow her line of thinking, we spent the day encircling the outer limits of human understanding by visiting the histories, both past and present, of attempts to reach beyond our sensory capacities through governance, technology, and reverie.

Immediately south of where the Channel Highway crosses the North West Bay River at Margate the eroded flank of the Margate volcanic centre is well exposed. The rounded hillock known locally as the Margate Meteorite is an erosional residual of volcanic ejectamenta.

The Margate Basaltic Tephra Outcrop was designated as a geological feature of significance in February 1973 by the Minister for Tourism. The roadside boulder was marked by a plaque, yet it has now gone. Only this enigmatic sign remains, graphically describing the volcanic intrusion through faded pastel-color coded layers of rock (for which the key has also disappeared).

Secretly tucked amidst Hobart’s suburban sprawl, midway up Mount Nelson, standing on top of the seismic vault operated by the University of Tasmania’s Earth Sciences Department, Lucy tells me of those who speak to mountains to interpret their tremors.

As we drift from site to site, from subject to subject, from object to object, I am reminded of an adventure Lucy and I embarked on two years ago to Bruny Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. French philosopher, anthropologist, and sociologist Bruno Latour was visiting Australia at the time, and since I have island hopped with Bruno before, and since I’ve never known him to say no to a field trip that involves traveling to “critical zones” with scientists and artists, I knew it would not take much convincing to get him down to Tasmania in conjunction with Ensayos. After our days on Bruny, impeccably organized by Lucy, and with the stellar and erudite company of Greg Lehman (Doctor in Art History and descendant of the Trawulwuy people of North East Tasmania), Peter Hay (poet and geographer) and Denise Milstein (sociologist and writer), Bruno, Denise and I challenged each other to write descriptions of Lucy’s fascinating face. Here is my go:

Morning Attempt at Describing a Face (written on March 7th, 2016)

“A darling countenance; propped so delicately on top a slender body it appears to float into the room. Its loftiness is certainly exacerbated by the frothiness of the long black curls that surround the equilateral triangular constellation, formed by the two iridescent eyes and the definitively small, sharp chin. Clear, yet freckle stained, those feline-like eyes sit uncannily wide apart and mesmerize everyone who stumbles upon their gaze. The petite nose crowns the long wide smile that suddenly, sparks the imagination: I see whiskers! Yes, she is the puss in boots… witty, charming, cunning, infinitely attractive.”

Whenever I’m with Lucy I’m invaded by the sense of being in the company of an innocent trickster. She is virtuous with language, quick to laugh, and exhibits copious amounts of savoir-faire. She effortlessly glides us into restricted areas, she comfortably reclines at any odd site, she cares, yet she knows how to let go.

I learn that volcanism has been a passion of Lucy’s since she was a child, but that what excites her today is the combination of seeing the very elemental materiality of rock and understanding its shape shifting form (some types were once a viscous, fluid material that later solidified) in relation to the built environment, to all the other stuff that we create to facilitate our lives. She sees potential in the architectonics of geological structures sitting incongruously beside urban material.

“If we think of the Earth we pretty much presume it to be a stable thing and yet all the evidence is there that it is really not. It’s alive and changing, and volatile and dangerous, and we live with it, and so things like this are evidence of that. It is an artifact of something that is changing,” Lucy tells me.

Lucy Bleach, Superslow (2015). Part of the outdoor sculpture commissions in Kelly’s Garden Projects, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, Tasmania. A brick structure housed a block of ice that slowly melted as the plants on its roofs slowly grew.

“Igneous intrusion,” I hear the words repeat in my head.

"I become a laborer. It's a way of picking up skills," she says. And I snap out of the igneous intrusion loop to remember the question I had posed (to which she is now responding): "I am not an expert bricklayer." We both laugh. 

Somehow, somewhere, I had lapsed back to her description of the moment when the Earth intrudes, when “the inside comes out.”

From sites of past work to a site of forthcoming research, Lucy snakes around Hobart landing us twenty kilometers east of the city, at the gates of a radio astronomy based observatory were she reveals some of her thinking around the work she will present in October at the Unconformity, an arts festival held in a small mining community in Tasmania’s wild west coast.

Mount Pleasant Radio Astronomy Observatory and Grote Reber Museum, operated by the University of Tasmania School of Maths & Physics, overlooking the Coal River Valley.

“Look Lucy, it’s listening,” I say.
“Well, it’s detecting. It’s deciphering...allowing us to have a sonic sense of extraterrestrial activity,” she responds.

Lucy is referring to the radio astronomy antenna that registers the Velar Pulsar, a radio-, optical-, X- and gamma-ray emitting pulsar associated with the Vela Supernova Remnant in the constellation of Vela. The Vela pulsar is the brightest persistent object in the high-energy gamma-ray sky.

Lucy Bleach, Something More Solid (2017). Part of the exhibition Remanence, Ten Days in the Island Festival, Hobart, Tasmania. A full-size cello was encased in toffee, one of its strings activated by an electromagnet. Film on the windows created the sense of an encroaching wild fire.

Lucy Bleach, Underground (2015). Contemporary Art Tasmania Solo Commission, Hobart, Tasmania. Two earthmover inner tubes inside a wall of crushed concrete were connected to an air compressor and a web-based monitoring stream. Responding to live seismic events, the form shifted and destroyed itself over the course of the exhibition.

Contemporary Art Tasmania directed by the extraordinary Michael Edwards, is the long-standing home of Hobart's most experimental artistic scene. Generous, and committed to tackling local needs, it was thanks to a collaboration between CAT and Gertrude Contemporary that I first travelled to Hobart in 2015 to give a performance lecture that unknowingly would lead me become enamoured with the archipelago and to discover its Gondwana mycelial connections to Karukinka/Tierra del Fuego.

Every morning, before dawn, Lucy runs down to the waterfront. Once she gets there, no matter what the temperature, she swims out to a point beyond the bounds of this picture. This daily communion with the icy estuarine waters that flow into the southern oceans is a strong image of the tenor of Lucy’s involvement in the life of different fluid bodies. Her impulse is to conjoin interlocking materials, forces, and concepts, including her own fleshy thinking. This is what makes Lucy’s projects pregnant with meaning, bursting at the seams. Her investigations stretch further than the ideas sparked by merely being interested in a “thing”. As she strives to teach herself and others about what lies beyond the knowable, Lucy braves past the liminal space of the coast.

“A thing I’m thinking at the moment is how might I translate that wave into light, so that it becomes visibly represented,” I heard her say before the wind picked up her words and blew them away. She was referring not to the ocean waves, but to the energy waves that bounced back and forth within a meteor when it hit Western Tasmania. These waves, she tells me, “resounded to the point where the whole thing exploded and vaporized and the meteor material (but also the country rock that it is in contact with) melted, and came down in a shower of what are called impactites, or Darwin glass.” A remarkable event, no doubt. One that can surely be explained away by science, but as I glance over Lucy’s desk, I get the sense that she is instead suspending the scientific accounts to privilege other sources of information.

Considering it a miracle.

Miráculo. Mira culo. To look at the anus. If I follow this poetic drift then a definition of miracle would be a result of looking deep within things, in a visceral way. This is different from navel gazing, I think, because there is nowhere to go from the navel. Self-reflexivity is never going to open up, it’s redundant, ineffectual. Where as to look within, beyond the rim of an opening, is to behold a miracle; to cross a threshold, to step through an aperture, to compromise oneself.

Lucy became interested in growing things as a part of her artistic practice when she moved down to Tasmania at the ripe age of twenty one. This quince tree, which grows tall in the backyard of her home, catches my eye. Lucy knows that quinces (amongst other growing things) are a dear artistic obsession of my own.

Lucy’s recipe for Quince Jelly:
“Pick as many quinces as you need to fill half a large pot.
Rub the quince fuzz off the fruit and rinse well.
Place quinces in pot, add sugar (approximately half the weight of the quinces).
Pour enough water to just cover quinces and sugar.
Bring pot to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced, is deep red, and wrinkles when a spoonful of it is poured on to a tilted plate after being in the freezer for a few minutes.
Lift the fruit from the pot and save for other recipes.
Strain the liquid through a sieve, then pour into jars.”

Incidents (of Travel) explores the chartered day-long travel itinerary as a format of artistic encounter and an extended conversation between curator/s and artist/s.

An expanded phase of a project conceived by Latitudes (Barcelona) in 2012, this new series of tours is conceived as fieldwork and an expanded studio visit. It is presented as reportage and dispatches from invited curators and artists working around the world.

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Lucy Bleach's artistic practice focuses on human’s varied relationships to tenuous, contingent and at times volatile environments, seeking engagement with communities that authentically experience such relationships. Geological terms and processes are explored to describe intimate human experience, to discover new ways of understanding our connection between the local and universal, deep time, and real time. Lucy is Senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Arts, University of Tasmania.

Camila Marambio is director of Ensayos an archipelagic research program that focuses on ecopolitical issues in Karukinka/Tierra del Fuego. She founded the program in 2010 in order to integrate artists and humanities scholars into the existing scientific research teams in Karukinka/Tierra del Fuego, working in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society’s Karukinka Natural Park. Ensayos has feminist research pods in Northern Norway, Australia, and the United States, all of which contemplate environmental issues of global importance at a hyper-local level. Camila currently lives in Naarm/Melbourne were she is a PhD candidate in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Art, Design & Architecture (MADA).
Incidents (of Travel)
Episode No. 7

Edited by Latitudes
Produced by Kadist
Photographs by Lucy Bleach and Camila Marambio

Lucy and Camila would like to pay their respects to the Muwinina peoples of Tasmania whose country this Incidents (of Travel) took place on. They would also like to thank Greg Lehman, a descendant of the Trawulwuy people of North East Tasmania, for teaching them how to care for country.

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