Dust Passing 2009

Dust Passing 2009

Performed at Spill National Platform, National Theatre Studios, Spill Festival,
18 April 2009. Mixed media installation, camera obscura and live performance.
Approx. 3 ½ hours. Photography by Aileen Harvey.
Originally conceived as a single photograph, Dust Passing was inspired by Robert Shapazian writing on Man Ray's Dust Breeding, a long exposure of settled dust on Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare By her Bachelor's, Even, in The Art of Photography, 1839-1989, in which he describes how the image came about.

Dust Passing merges landscapes of the body and dust, light and grain. It is a combination of live performance and live photography, a kind of performative photography.

A figure lies beneath a landscape of dust in a large sieve. The sieve is agitated and the landscape of tiny particles is ever so slowly collapsing, deforming…and falling through the sieve. The landscape is transferred below and the body becomes enveloped, engulfed by the dust. The dust merges with the skin, enters the pores, and becomes dissolved by it.

The performance occurs in front of a camera, a life-size walk-in pinhole. A photographic image is made at the same time as the live one. It is a kind of moving image of time and dust passing in front of the lens, the image drifting on to the paper. These actions are captured in one single frame.

The audience is implicit in the work, not just as witness but also as participants. Their presence in the live space is imprinted in the photographic grain. Their traces are left as they navigate the space, stirring the dust up as inside a snow globe. They also bear witness to the photograph being made in the pinhole.

Amid the mists of memory, amid the suspended specs, between the real and the imagined, forms and images appear - breed, transform and fade.

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