Sunday, April 4, 2010
Cobalt in Cincinnati ~
I spent a good part of today tying knots in baling twine. The net I'm making is the super-structure for a tree-like shape that will be part of the You'll Always Come Back installation at Bromwell's Gallery, opening May 29th. I was planning just to perform the music, a few extracts from the dance, some video projection, and mainly have the show be the watercolor paintings of YACB images. But that all changed when Brent pointed out the very problematic acoustics of the room. The choice was simple - the music required that the room be altered, and that means a complete installed environment. The solution came from the body of Idrissa, a butoh-trained dancer who has agreed to work on YACB ~ once I met him, and saw his body language, I realized that the space which surrounds him is a fantastical hybrid world, part outdoor, part indoor; part dream, part substance. The substance is blue, meaning in this case, indigo for cloth (Africa) and cobalt for other objects (Germany). The term cobalt is derived from the German "Kobold" - a supernatural being that indwells in a particular space, like a mine. Miners in the old days heard them knocking, deep under the earth, and the dermatitis caused by contact with cobalt ore was only one of the dangers such creatures could cause. Cobalt was declared a basic element (weight 27) in the 1700s ~ it is toxic, but also, in the form of B 12, essential for mammalian life. It may be essential to life itself, as algae and fungus both require it. And it can be blue ~ an opaque blue with a greenish to purplish bronze haze on the surface, as though the light reflected from its surface is broken into a lustrous intensity, like the sky, only deeper. I thought it would be nice to see a lot of it, so I'm planning to paint every surface with a nice thick coat of cobalt and see what happens. It will be a deal darker, more monochromatic, and more intense, than this sketch can show.