Artist's talk at Mudam 2012 on Youtube - View here


The sky is glowing with the setting sun

Exhibition from June 2 to September 23, 2012
Commissioned by Enrico Lunghi

Combining photography, video and audio elements, the installations of British artist Emily Bates are the fruit of long-term research in specific geographical contexts, often marked by the transition from traditional cultures to modernity.

Her new project The sky is glowing with the setting sun has evolved from several visits to the Japanese island of Amami Oshima, located in the East China Sea, the subtropical landscapes of which are intimately linked to the rich mythology and belief system of the inhabitants. The work is centred on a photographic series combining views of the virgin forest, which contain numerous sacred trees, with portraits of two women who are guardians of the island’s traditions and views of their living space.
The combination of these elements underlines both the fragility and the richness of the relationships that link the inhabitants of the island to its landscape.

The video installation Rhythm in 2 (... As long as our village shall last) comprises video recordings made over 2 years, of a song from a unique island ritual, the Hirase Mankai. The ritual is practised once a year at a specific site on the island shore. Originally, one part of the call and response song would be sung by Noro Shaman, and the other by several villagers, in respect to the rice gods, and to celebrate the harvest. Here the shifting time and demise of the island traditions sing out, echoing the song line, As long as our village shall last.

“As long as our village shall last,
Let us honour and celebrate her,
Let us honour and celebrate, as long as our shima shall last!”

All of this highlights the documentary and poetic approach at the heart of Emily Bates’ practice: ‘‘Although the project is mostly based on research work, observations and documents, the juxtaposition of the different elements generates an interplay of disturbing relationships which touches on our human fragility, explores structures, tensions and unexpected histories, and perhaps, ultimately, creates something like fiction.’’

In conjunction with the exhibition The sky is glowing with the setting sun, Emily Bates is showing The Nurturing Island, and other works, in the premises of our partner Arendt & Medernach (01/06 - 26/08/2012, curator: Paul Di Felice; address: 14, rue Erasme, L-2082 Luxembourg).

With the support from the Mondriaan Fonds.