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Detritus 2021: Duration and Destruction

Recap of the first iteration of Detritus, 23rd October 2021.

Important to the ethos of Detritus is what its structure enables for artists - firstly a space to experiment with new work or ways of working, and secondly a space to test durational work. While it's never easy to find spaces to trial ideas, it is particularly difficult for live artists who produce long-form or durational work, where knowing exactly how long a piece runs is impossible until you do it.


It was fitting to kick off this first event with Jennifer Martin's piece Cleanse, running for approximately two hours, a sequel to a previous piece Bathe of a similar length and materials but deviating in action. Over the two hours, Martin used water from a metal bucket to wash thick ropes crisscrossing from large O rings on the walls, slowly soaking herself as the ropes drip-dried around her. At the other end of the day, Rosie Vincent similarly revisited previous work and materials durationally, performing Mon nom était Diabetic over three hours. This piece was farewell to a body of work Vincent has created using the collected waste of her diabetes, such as needles and pump wires, as she and the audience sorted these into shares bins and recycle bins over laughter and drinks. 

Running from beginning to end of the day was Sal Morton's No Show, offering visitors opportunities to 'pay their rent' through accepting and carrying out a task card. These cards served as challenges to the white cube space and how we interact with it, encouraging participants to make their own live work in the space through playful interruptions. Also viewable throughout the day was the multimedia collection by Anna Dean, Performance Portraits, showcasing a video art piece and paintings on femme visuals, the music of the video drawing visitors over to pause in between the performances.

Throughout most of the day, multiple performances took place at once rendering the gallery a site of individual and collective creation. Indigo Ayling captured many of the performances in the early half of the day in their stunning, characteristic painting style, drawing the other artists live as they washed, snipped, poured and crushed their own materials. Both the images and the act of making them were beautiful responses to the performances happening around Ayling, and spoke to the cacophony of action Detritus aimed for.