Finish

Thursday and Friday 9–10 August / Days 11 and 12
240 books distributed in twelve days.
Project completed.

I had the pleasure of hosting Frances Scott for a night at the Dead House. A talented artist and lovely company.

Joe Stevens interviewed me for his blog about working with archives, performance, maintaining a creative practice and cultural production in the US and UK.

And then, on my penultimate day in Weymouth, Jane took me for a West Dorset drive-around that she’d been planning for a week. She’d wanted to do this back in March when I stayed with her, but there wasn’t time, so we squeezed in a few hours for a tour, post-bakery.

On the way to her car she confessed that she had an agenda for me.

Two performances of 4’33″

At my talk, someone asked me which artists were influential in my work. I mentioned John Cage and 4’33″ specifically, and briefly described the premise of Cage’s 1952 work: silence, listening, chance, suspension of judgement, awareness. Jane heard this at the talk, and as a sort of going-away gift, she decided that she was going to take me to two powerful places in West Dorset, sit me down in very specific places and give me two “performances” of four minutes and thirty-three seconds in the landscape. She wore her watch for the occasion.

The first location was Eggardon Hill, a mysterious Iron Age earthwork built by ancient Celts and conquered by Romans in 43 AD. A spectacular landscape protected by the National Trust.

Below: my view out from the first performance of 4’33″looking straight ahead to the sea. Jane sat behind me, about 30 feet back, and I closed my eyes for the duration of the piece. I heard wind, songbirds, sheep, distant highway sounds and crows, all in front of me but coming from various directions, an enormous open-air theater. A soaring, connected feeling that could have continued for much longer, but near-perfect as experienced here with Jane. To conclude the performance, Jane said ok then.

Approaching the second location, I asked Jane if she thought I was performing 4’33″ for her, or if she was performing it for me. She replied, it’s being performed.

The second location for a performance of 4’33″ was an 11th century motte and bailey castle earthwork. Below, the view straight ahead of me. More intimate this time—less wind, my own breath, and the addition of buzzing insects, cows and a distant tractor. A heavy feeling of sinking into the earth, a brief absorption (collapse?) of time and space.

These are significant gifts, these things I’ve received these last two weeks in Weymouth. Moving, meaningful gestures that I’ll remember forever.

On the last day of Weymouths, I returned the bicycle to Bev, who prepared tea. We noticed that her walls match the color of the Sophie Calle book perfectly.

Books 238, 239 and 240

The last few copies of 1,485 Colors (#12) went to a couple from Bermuda, a seven-year-old boy from Brockenhurst, and a Finnish woman, who said that her book (the very last copy of the project) would go home with her to Finland. Finish.

 

3 Comments

  1. Sublime

  2. What a beautiful ending. Congratulations! Sounds like an incredible journey Paul.

  3. Per the above; indeed wondrous on so many levels, not least of which I think there really is no definitive ‘finish’ since we know your distributed work(s) and absorbed experiences will continue to resonate indefinitely. Looking forward soon to the pleasure of seeing this all firsthand just by the next first glimpse of you!

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