Professor Baz Kershaw presented the following short performance as his overnight response to the Cove Park artists’ retreat site, as part of our network’s two-day event there (14-15 February 2011). Please note that the first few moments are missing from the video document, as I fumbled with my camera while trying to hold onto a wire fence to prevent myself slipping down a sodden bank into a ditch. Baz had selected his audience’s precarious viewing position with great care. Over to him for further context … (SB)
A LITTLE PIECE CALLED ‘A FEW TIPPING POINTS’
This scratch try-out sketch of a presentation was preceded by a brief introduction in the Cove Park main workshop. Baz explained three critical contextual aspects of the piece. First, it referenced the fact that at 15 years old, to the surprise of his secondary school headmaster, he became one of the top ten entrants in a National Services examination, thus gaining entry to the Royal Navy as an artificer apprentice; but his dreams of escaping a lifetime working in factories had been dashed when a medical examination revealed a high, diet-related blood sugar count and he was sent home – in effect, permanently – from induction training at Dartmouth Naval College. But for that he could well have become one of the engineers running the nuclear submarines up and down Loch Long. Second, that he was no performer, so please could colleagues imagine him as his twenty-one-year-old son who has the necessary experience, vigour and focus to make it work better than ever he could. Third, that the place he would be taking the group to was the only one at Cove Park where the concrete foundations of eight former World-War-Two American bomb/munitions stores were fully exposed to the elements.
The video clip starts when Baz is at the first of five ‘stations’ created by using the junk that littered the foundations. Before that he began close to the fence which Steve Bottoms mentions above, reading out a reference to a question he had posed to educationist Alan Reid at the Glasgow Symposium two days earlier:
‘He asked a university teacher about people owning global tipping points: he replied with a short lecture on the pedagogy of terror.’ [For details, see Alan Reid transcript also in this Documents section. SB]
Next he ran back to and then along the strip of concrete foundation furthest from the fence, held up and threw down a big black plastic dustbin, before shouting out the following:
‘He made over a hundred productions, about twenty were in theatres, the rest were all over the place. Most of them were rubbish; two or three might have made the grade. RIDICULOUS!’ [Now hit play…]
Video clip footnotes:
- Each short autobiographical statement was followed by a debunking comment, sometimes inaudible on the video: ridiculous, ludicrous, precarious, preposterous, precipitous.
- At the third ‘station’ the object held up was a broken (garden) rake.
- The long pause after the steel gate was raised became filled with the distant sound – drowned out on the video by rainfall – of a submarine underway underwater, including the regular ‘ping’ of a sonar device. Courtesy the seriously talented Tim Nunn who put together, on spec, a ‘classic’ track. (Ref: ‘Sounding the Depths II’: http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sound/sound.pdf Accessed 14.09.2011)