Sounds From Beneath

Response to the work Sounds From Beneath by Mikail Karikis , a work commissioned by East Kent Festival Cluster, 2010. The work was shown by Uriel Orlow Gallery who provided this accompanying text:  “In Sounds from Beneath a desolate disused colliery in East Kent, once populated with workers, machines and the sounds of their activities, is brought back to life through song. The video centers around a choral piece for which Karikis invites an ex-miners’ choir to recall and sing the subterranean sounds of a working coal mine. It transforms into an amphitheatre resonating sounds of explosions in the ground, machines cutting the coal-face, shovels scratching the earth and the distant melody of the Miner’s Lament, all sung by Snowdown Colliery Welfare Male Voice Choir grouping in formations reminiscent of picket lines.” See website.

The response text includes a quote includes the quote ‘It was a hard thing to undo this knot’ from the poem It was a hard thing to undo this knot, by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Sounds From Beneath

‘It was a hard thing to undo this knot ’
to untangle sound and image,
man and land.

‘It was a hard thing to undo this knot’ and separate the above and below,
the ebb and flow,
and the water dripping from heap to hollow.

Miners mark the landscape,
above and below,
with movements and gestures that they do not own.

Reclaiming the land, above and below,
through the sound and the words
and the whistling wind that comes from their throats.

‘Coal, shovel, fire. Coal, shovel, fire.’

The land is caught,
caught between above and below.
Industrial bruises: Grey-green and grey-yellow.

And the sound drones, insistent to make its presence felt.

The earth is fossilized, patterned with memory.
And the sound drones insistent to make its presence felt.

The landscape is fetishized and broken.
And the sound drones insistent to make its presence felt.

A prehistoric bone lies in a lunar landscape.
But it is a stick, wooden and still dead.
Bone-like it ticks like a ticking clock of history.
And the whir and the hum of voices that sound like machines make their presence felt.

‘Coal, shovel, fire. Coal, shovel, fire.’
‘It was a hard thing to undo this knot’

Momentum builds and diminishes.
They blast the landscape with their words: ‘Coal, shovel, fire. Coal, shovel, fire.’
‘It was a hard thing to undo this knot’

A knot that now holds the hands of men, dormant and redundant.
Skin like wrinkled storybooks
become the cracks and fissures that cross the land.

Machines become voices, human timbre.
An organ of men,
Harmonious, then,

Hallucinogenic flash,
plastic paraphernalia,
a stranger.

But these men,
These men are stitched to the landscape.

Image Credit: Sounds from Beneath, Mikhail Karikis, single channel HD video with sound, 6′ 41″, 2010-11© Mikhail Larikis.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s