3 hour durational performance with coal, shovels, wax candles, black latex balloons, coal tar soap, and fluorescent lights.
UNION explores ideas of physical and emotional labour, collaboration, and value. The project consists of five parts – encompassing print, live performance, and online media.
The central materials of the work are the bodies of the artists, and coal. As a material, coal has been used – literally and figuratively – to both build and destroy systems of power and wealth, communities and bodies. Coal is bound with contradictions. As a carbon entity, it can be ignited to generate heat and electrical power – sustaining and enriching life – while simultaneously contributing to the irrevocable chaos of climate change. It is alchemical – transforming through heat into gold – it has been mined and used to line the pockets of industrialists and governments, while becoming an emblem of working class failure. Thriving towns and physical communities have been constructed around the industries which mined and processed coal, only to be left decimated by their collapse. Bodies, built and fed on mining, slowly asphyxiate on its wages of dust. Drawing on these ideas and concerns, and their own family histories as coal miners and industrial workers, Richard Hancock and Traci Kelly undertake a labour of images – a series of physical and emotional tasks mined from a poetic exploration of the body and a cellular reaction to all that burns.
Part III: A Labour of Images is a series of choreographed live actions and tasks that are enacted over three repeated cycles – mirroring the days, afters, and nights shifts of coal workers. The performance deals with the materialities of coal, its derivative forms, damaged bodies, and hard labour.
WAKE Festival, ]performance s p a c e [, UK (2017)
Photo credits: Paul Samuel White, for ]performance s p a c e [