lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

Distance of Their Mouths, 2011

11:47 edit of a 21:30 performance commissioned by Gallery Players of Niagara (recommended that you view in this window)

Pre-recorded and live mixed video, text, music.

Composer: Rose Bolton
Concept, video, text, performance: Elizabeth Chitty
Cello: Margaret Gay
Violin: Julie Baumgartel
Recorders: Allison Melville
performed at Niagara Artists Centre, St. Catharines ON, January 22, 2011
video documentation by Berenicci Hershorn

Notes on The Distance of Their Mouths: a journey from west to east
Elizabeth Chitty
The Distance of Their Mouths charts six of the waterfalls in the numbered creek system of the North Niagara watershed. I previously worked with this imagery in the video installation, Fall, shown at Grimsby Public Art Gallery in 2008. Both of these works are rooted in my sense of place and appreciation for the power of waterfalls, which dot the north Niagara landscape.

In this work, a deeply personal narrative is layered with this landscape. Relationships and stories in verse of grief and despair are embedded in the geology and geography. The narrative journey following the creeks from west to east leads to the great waterfall, which I have described as if viewed in a meditative state associated with a Buddhist path, Dzogchen. The epilogue enumerates the creeks opening into Lake Ontario. Empty and open are identified as states of being overcoming despair and turmoil.

These expressions of place, emotions and spiritual states are joined to an expression of a theoretical position. Landscape in art is conventionally that viewed and consumed by us. As object to our subject, it is passive and neutral. Through embodying the landscape of my birth and residence with my personal narrative, I disrupt that convention. I support this visually by electronically overlaying the images of the musicians engaged in the live, physical act of playing their instruments. In so doing, I make my small hole in the exploitative relationship with the land and the objectification that sees us as separate to nature.

I have not addressed the music, which I leave to the composer, Rose Bolton, and I thank her and the musicians of Gallery Players of Niagara for their generous and inspired collaboration in realizing this work.

text excerpt

Related blog posts here and here  and here and here.

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  1. […] (installation, 2008) and Distance of Their Mouths (performance, 2010), were based on imagery of waterfalls and creeks in the north Niagara watershed. […]

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