United Fall

It's good to imagine the END.

It comes to us all

Dark Days need Ceremony

a new performance and installation by choreographer and artist Emma Martin, in collaboration with Katie Davenport, Stephen Dodd, Mick Donohoe and Mufutau Yusuf (Junior).

KING | SHRINE is part of a larger project by Martin entitled Dark Days Need Ceremony, a work about ‘endings and new beginnings’. This marks the first of a pair of works under this title.

The dual title reflects the two aspects of this work. KING is a dance performance created for a dancer and a sound artist, ceremonial in its presentation that seeks to celebrate the simple, communal act of gathering and dancing, whilst leaning on the narrative arc of ascension, reign and death as a frame to consider humanity’s era of domination. The performance serves as a humble bow to our powerlessness in the face of nature’s will, and the thought ‘we might as well dance’. 

SHRINE acts as a grotto-like space or memento-mori for the viewer, comprising a room size installation of sculpture, light and sound. Using materials and symbols associated with the opulence of churches, grottos and palaces – gold, candles, light and mementos, the viewer is also confronted with the familiar, banal detritus we leave behind or discard- the aftermath of our lives. 

The looped audio work that is at the heart of SHRINE takes the audience on a journey through the apocalypse, the abyss and a new beginning. The sound proposes an absurd, theatricalised vision of the End and what a new beginning might look like. 

Martin writes; ‘It’s healthy to imagine the END. We’re all going to die. Here is a space to contemplate that.’ Endings of many kinds are considered in this exhibition, and in this season of exhibitions at VISUAL more generally. However, the intention of this thematic is not to focus purely on endings, but on the potential for survival and new life to continue after and through periods of cataclysmic change.

Created by Emma Martin in collaboration with:
Mufutau Yussuf (Junior) (dancer)
Mick Donohue (Music and Sound)
Katie Davenport (Visual design and wax sculpture)
Stephen Dodd (Light)
Veronica Foo (Production)
Susan Collins (programmer)
Tuathal McClenaghan (Sound system and installation)
Frances White (Velvet Curtain)
Art Mooney (Vinyl Lettering)
Barry Hehir (Lighting Technician)
Mick Kelly and Istvan Laszlo (wax sculpture fabrication)

Text: Emma Martin with some contributions from Wayne Jordan

Voice: Hilary Woods

Commissioned by VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art

Everything probably begins in the dark.

My abyss staring deeply into yours

Silence. Everything fell silent from what came before, which was probably bad renditions of pop songs from the noughties sung with too much want and need. A dull light flicks on, one of those crap energy saver light bulbs. A huge painted canvas, taking up your entire field of vision - all pastoral browns, pinks and greens. Dusty low sunset scene, far off horizon. A handful of withered petals blow in from somewhere to nowhere, and an empty Tayto packet trundles by. Are we on a road somewhere? A road to somewhere from here. The air has a familiar smell…a mixture of patchouli, Lynx, cut grass and rotting fruit. Pan-pipes echo in the distance. From nowhere a pink cloud of smoke forms- it’s blushing from the inside and appears to be throbbing. As it blushes everything else seems to go grey. Voices. Indecipherable gibberish and mouth sounds and the Pan-pipes getting louder and louder. The cloud takes on the impression of a beating heart in those videos of open-heart surgery- furiously pumping. Rain. The sound of torrential rain drowns out the pan-pipes. Sudden silence again. A small bird bursts though the cloud like a bullet, and there’s brief interlude of kamikaze sweetness and panic, followed by a deafening barrage of whistles and squawks. Underneath the cloud a puddle of shiny pink gloop appears on the ground, dripping from above like honey off an invisible spoon. The light turns golden in colour, getting brighter until it hurts to look. A cacophony of sound and colours pass and the cloud dissipates. In its place a creature that resembles a mammoth standing on its hind legs, shimmies delicately. Steam billows from its nostrils, eyes are red. More petals blow across from nowhere to somewhere. The air is so chill you can almost see the heat from the animal emanate. There’s a small radio playing somewhere, a tinny sound. Wichita Line Man? The more folky side of country. From a distance you can hear the sound of heels - click clack click clack– approaching from behind the painted canvas. A small girl appears through a slit…barefooted. An arrow stabs the ground in front of the creature resembling a mammoth. It bows gracefully like a royal page boy and backs away through the slit, still in a bowed position. Suddenly you hear the growls of advanced labour pains,  and they’re drowned out by tonnes of stones being emptied off the back of a quarry truck. Tonnes and tonnes. Thunderous and terrifying. A charred Christmas tree rolls past on wheels, complete with melted baubles. The small girl dances and leaves. Labour growls again, fading away to a lone baroque flute, full of hope. 


Back to silence.

The painted canvas falls to the floor