Abstract: Project R-hythm - Tess Denman-Cleaver

Abstract: Tess Denman-Cleaver

Project R-hythm: The landscape as performer in walking-based performance practice

Tess Denman-Cleaver
PGR Student at Culture Lab (Newcastle University)
Artistic director of Tender Buttons

In this presentation Tess will share experiences of creating walking-based performance work in Northumberland. The performance project she will describe attempted to understand and respond to ever-shifting tidal landscapes.

Project R-hythm is an on-going collaboration between performance maker and practice-based researcher Tess Denman-Cleaver and Martine Vrieling van Tuijl, an artist and resident of Holy Island (Northumberland). This presentation will focus on the first year of Project R-hythm's activity, in which Tess and Martine created a walking performance event that aimed to share and expand thier understanding of the landscape of Holy Island and explore the significance of environmental factors in personal experience and identity.

We came to understand the space of the island as defined by perpetual geographical motion. This presentation will draw upon the making process in order to respond specifically to the following question posed by the symposium: How can we challenge ourselves as walkers in a passive landscape/backdrop: How do the animate and inanimate act upon one another?

The mercurial landscape of Holy Island challenged us to make a live event that existed within a space defined by a heightened sense of temporality; Reflecting upon Project R-hythm we have come to understand this landscape as an embodiment of "space-time" (Massey, 2011). For Project R-hythm, therefore, geographical place was far from being a 'passive landscape' or 'backdrop'. Rather, in response to the continuous and heightened motion of the island, we created a walking performance in which the landscape was framed as the primary performer.

This presentation will illustrate an understanding of place that is active rather than passive; as performer rather than backdrop.