Edgework Artist Profile #1: Layla Curtis

Newcastle Gateshead, 2005 by Layla Curtis

Newcastle Gateshead, 2005 by Layla Curtis

As part of our collaboration with Edgework an artist-led cross-disciplinary journal and store with an emphasis on place, we are running a series of monthly profiles of the artists here on Elsewhere. Where better to start than with Layla Curtis, founder of Edgework and previous contributor to our blog:

Layla Curtis’ practice has a focus on place, landscape and mapping and often examines the attempts we make to chart the earth, how we locate ourselves, navigate space and represent terrain. 

Polar Wandering, 2006 by Layla Curtis

Polar Wandering, 2006 by Layla Curtis

 Layla’s works include Trespass, an app for iphone which maps an oral history of a northern English edgeland and tempts the user to trespass in order to access the work (and which we featured here on the Elsewhere blog); Polar Wandering, a 27,856 mile long interactive online drawing charting her journey to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, exhibited in solo shows at New Art Gallery Walsall, and Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; and Tong Tana, a moving image work made while trekking with nomadic hunter-gathers in the Borneo Rainforest and exhibited at Matt's Gallery, London. 

 As well as featuring in international collections including the Tate Collection and Government Art Collection forthcoming projects and exhibitions include the collaged map The United Kingdom, currently on display in Ideas Depot at Tate Liverpool, UK (until 21 July).

Tong Tana production still, 2012.

Tong Tana production still, 2012.

A documentation of Trespass will also be included in the forthcoming exhibition This Land is Our Land at PAPER, Manchester, UK (curated by Edgework contributor, and PAPER curator Simon Woolham) from 29 June - 3 August 2019. Curtis is currently working on a series of new commissions for Tate shop to be launched later this year.

Layla Curtis on Edgework
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Uncanny Waters: Upcoming events in London and Hastings

Photo: Katrin Schönig

Photo: Katrin Schönig

Our editor-in-chief Paul Scraton is heading to the UK next week for a couple of events that bring writers, filmmakers and musicians together to explore the topic of uncanny coastlines and waterways, from the Baltic beaches of Paul's book GHOSTS ON THE SHORE (Influx Press) to the canals of London and the coastlines of southern England. The events will take place at The Social in London on the 28 February and at the Electric Palace in Hastings on the 2 March.

Paul will be reading and presenting, with filmmaker Eymelt Sehmer, the short film IN SEARCH OF GHOSTS, a lyrical portrait of the book. Alongside Paul and Eymelt, Gareth E Rees will read from his new book THE STONE TIDE (Influx Press), his novel about tragedy, folklore and eco-apocalypse in Hastings, with a live musical performance of U118, a psychedelic invocation of the town’s infamous beached U-Boat. Finally, Gary Budden, author of HOLLOW SHORES (Dead Ink) and contributor to Elsewhere No.01, will explore the emotional geography of Kent's coastline and London's haunted canals with a reading and GREENTEETH, a wyrd fiction super-8 film directed by Adam Scovell based on one of Gary's stories.

In Hastings, they will also be joined by Rebecca E. Marshall who will be presenting her immersive documentary GLITTER AND STORM, which evokes the magical joys of sea swimming.

If you are anywhere near London or Hastings, we would love to see you at one (or both!) of the events. You can find out more information and get tickets using the following links:

Uncanny Waters - The Social, London - 28 Feb 2018 / Facebook event page Buy tickets
Uncanny Coasts - Electric Palace, Hastings - 2 Mar 2018 / Facebook event page / Buy tickets

Borders and their consequences: Introducing 'the corridor'

Image: Vera Drebusch

Image: Vera Drebusch

The Corridor is a new project from Ireland exploring borders and their consequences. One of the founders of the project is the Elsewhere Books Editor Marcel Krueger, who we asked to introduce the project and the first events and actions that will be taking place in the coming months:

Who needs borders anyway?

For a year now, my wife Anne and I live in Dundalk in Ireland. We moved here for a variety of reasons: to live and work in a smaller town away from the molochs of Berlin and Dublin (where renting out has become impossible anyway), to live by the sea, to be close to my office. We knew that we would be moving next to one of the main Brexit-faultlines, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The longer we live here, the more we've become fascinated with the history of our new hometown and worried about what the future might hold for the communities north and south of the border. As a writer & journalist and a curator & arts manager coming from a country which was defined by a border for several decades, we now want to explore the area through both our fields of expertise, and have created 'the corridor'.    

'the corridor' is an interdisciplinary and discursive project that which explores borders and their political, social and cultural consequences through a series of public talks, screenings and exhibitions. With artists from all fields, historians, sociologists, contemporary witnesses and other experts we want to discuss the history of the Irish border and the future challenges of the upcoming EU border for this area. Our first event series is a collaboration with the 1. Deutsches Stromorchester (1st German Electrophonic Orchestra), and you can find more details on our website. Coming events will include a fish dinner with fishermen from both sides of the border initiated by German artist Vera Drebusch, and an exchange about walking borders between Elsewhere editor-in-chief Paul Scraton and Irish writers Garett Carr and Evelyn Conlon. 

To paraphrase Jan Morris, if race is a fraud, then nationality is a cruel pretense. There is nothing organic to it. As the tangled history of the corridor between Belfast and Dublin shows, it is disposable. You can find your nationality altered for you, overnight, by statesmen far away. So who needs borders anyway?

Event: Disappear Here Launch in Coventry, 16 March

We have recently discovered a fascinating project in which a collaboration of 18 artists have produced 27 films about the Coventry ring road as an inner city superstructure that crosses the boundary between Modernist and Brutalist architecture. Sounds interesting? Well, on the 16 March the work of the last few months will be launched at The Box - Fargo in Coventry where there will be a screening as well as a Q & A session with the artists and the organisers of the project.

Here are a few words from Adam Steiner, the Project Lead of Disappear Here:

“It’s been a great experience to work alongside emerging and established artists from Coventry and beyond to reimagine the ringroad through a series of poetry films. Coventry ringroad is one of the city’s most iconic (and notorious) physical landmarks , acting as both city wall, orbital conduit and dividing line. 

I feel the ringroad deserves to be celebrated as well as criticized – it is the duty of artists and citizens to engage with issues of public space, control of architecture and the human experience of our built environment – to shine a light on the fantastic, the boring and the universal in the everyday. Coventry has always been underrated as a place to live, work and create – so I hope the films will encourage people to visit and seek inspiration where they can to read, write and attend more poetry events!”

You can watch the trailer here and all important links are below:

Beyond the Camera: Copenhagen

IMAGE: Laura Harker

IMAGE: Laura Harker

By Laura Harker:

The late-November winds blew down Nyhavn, biting my cheeks as I walked between colourful canal-side buildings and small wooden huts selling hot glog wine and sugared treats. Tourists and locals were meandering along the road, enjoying the Christmas markets that just opened a couple of days previously. Following the pavement around to the left, I came to a stop by the Royal Danish Theatre, its high glass walls loomed over the mouth of the canal, and the wooden decking was slippery underfoot. I peered inside and saw huge floor-to-ceiling photographs of stage actors in the theatre’s entryway and spacious café, none of whom I recognised from TV or cinema. This huge theatre also wasn’t something I recognised from the silver screen, and I’d never seen the view in front of me until now. Water in the canal sparkled under the low sun that cast a soft toffee light onto the ripples, a sight that the camera could never truly capture.

I’d only been in Copenhagen for half a day, and already my preconceptions were slipping. Even before I stepped off the plane at Copenhagen Airport, I had an impression of the city firmly in my mind. After being drip-fed information about Scandi-noir crime dramas from newspaper TV columns and mentions of Danish films by heavyweight directors like Susanne Brier and Nicolas Winding Refn in film podcasts, I’d immersed myself in Danish cinema and now wanted to see the city for myself, away from the rose-tinted glare of the camera. Even though I’d never been, I was convinced that the hours spent watching detective Sarah Lund chase suspects around the city in The Killing would be enough to get my bearings.  I’d even watch the city age and develop, going from political liberation in A Royal Affair to the gun-shot scared buildings during the Nazi occupation portrayed in Flame and Citron. Reams of show reel loosely sewed the city’s history, culture and geography together.

It’s impossible not to be influenced by what you see on film; a 90-minute snapshot greatly shapes your preconceptions of a city. James Bond’s London is all cocktail bars and Windsor knots; Amelie’s Paris centres around a bohemian Montmartre made up of quirky bistros; Hollywood shows us the American Midwest as a blur of white picket fences in God-fearing towns. I’d decided that Copenhagen would be chunky knit jumpers, muted Scandinavian tones, and omnipresent hygge.

Right at the end of the film Open Hearts one of the main characters gets in her little red car and drives around the city, the shaky handheld camera and low evening light giving this impromptu tour of Copenhagen a somnambulant atmosphere. As we’re taken around the city, it has a dream-like feel as lights in shop windows twinkle, cyclists and pedestrians are unwittingly caught on film, and the camera flicks across facades of hazy, non-descript buildings. In the run up to my trip, I used this scene as a starting point, recollecting shots from this final scene and weaving them together from scenes I’d watched elsewhere. I imagined walking through the city, through each scene, making note of each notable landmark: the town hall in The Killing; Tivoli Gardens in After the Wedding. Taking my mind along the pastel buildings along Nyhavn Harbour, knowing that the Charlottenborg Palace would soon pop up, and I could turn around and face the white-washed façade of the Noma restaurant across the river. My mind panned like a camera, framing the city in vibrant technicolour.

I told myself I knew the city: I could walk through movies and TV shows, I knew the tone of the city, I just had to follow the leads of directors, actors and film crews. I decided to leave the guidebooks and recommendations from friends at home. But I soon realised that wandering around the city isn’t as simple as flipping a page or cutting between scenes to get to the next attraction. It takes time working your way through a city and getting to all the sites. These slow walks or bustling train journeys always end up on the cutting room floor in the movies.

At the end of my first full day in Copenhagen, I climbed to the top of the Round Tower, looked across the burnt-orange skyline and realised I actually didn’t know this city at well as I’d told myself. This wasn’t going to be the Copenhagen showcased through film and chasing scenes in my head would be pointless; there’s no wide, sweeping shots of the city and there’s no camera that pans out, neatly framing each landmark for you. The nearest you get is staring out the window of the metro of the S-train as they pass underground, behind buildings or through industrial estates. You don’t have anyone telling you where you should look once you’re away from the TV screen. It takes longer to find the attractions if you’re your own editor and narrator, making your way on foot through streets.

I decided to write my own script for Copenhagen after that first day, and took to the streets on foot to explore and experience it for the city it really is, away from the stories told by a fil industry. Walking the streets, my view of the city wasn’t cut short by edited shots or hasty direction. I saw landmarks and buildings I’d seen on screen, but I also found a completely new side to Copenhagen, one that hasn’t had the gazing eye of an audience on it. And it is in these unpublicised, unglamorous areas and neighbourhoods in which the true soul of the city hides, far away from the intrusive gaze of the camera and the editing skills of a post-production team.

Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire. She blogs at northquarters.com