Saturday, 29 May 2010

Magma by Marianna Mørkøre and Rannvá Káradóttir: abstract forms in the Faroes

Installation photographs from 'Magma' by Marianna Mørkøre and Rannvá Káradóttir, 2010. Still images copyright Marianna Mørkøre and Rannvá Káradóttir, photographs by Margaret Sharrow, 2010

Marianna Mørkøre and Rannvá Káradóttir
super 8 film transferred to DVPAL
3 min

There was one thing that, for me, made it worth going to the Liverpool Biennial 2010. The fact that it was from the Nordic Pavillion at CUC (the Contemporary Urban Centre, appropriately situated on Greenland Street), will come as no surprise to those familiar with my affinity for all things circumpolar. It was the short film 'Magma', by Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication fashion studies graduate Marianna Mørkøre and London Contemporary Dance School graduate Rannvá Káradóttir: two Faroese artists who came to study in London, and who are now collectively known as Rammatik. The Faroes are a little-visited series of islands, a part of the Kingdom of Denmark dropped between Norway, Shetland and Iceland, said to be the toenail clippings of a Nordic giant. They have the remoteness of Foula, or St Kilda, but more so. Some of the remoter islands in the group have only had their remotest villages connected by road and tunnel within living memory. Green, green, bright green billiard tables of islands with jagged peaks and plunging sea cliffs, uniformly chilly all year round. Bird sanctuaries and brilliant jewel-coloured Danish houses. The island of the birds, where one might have to hole up for a week before a brilliant hour's sun transforms everything beyond compare.

Into this surreal and all-dominating landscape and weather come a series of black-clad dancers in curious long black caps, with swimming-cap chinstraps, hovering somewhere between Breton lace and bullets. They chop their blackened palms before their faces. They walk in a line up the hill, and run down in a hasty group. They stand in a pair and cross and uncross, open and close arms in staccato gestures. One lies, eyes closed, on the blackened rock, a ring of twirling hands draws back from the centre. They stare at the viewer, blankly, knowingly, slyly.

The editing is as abrupt as the choreography and the contrast between the black figures and the jagged green mountain that peers through the mist. Short shots accentuated by the dissonant soundtrack by Jens L. Thomsen. Pieces of end-of-reel flash. A figure stands alone against the hill. The synthesizers dive slowly towards bass, sliding from one tone fluidly to the next as a man grabs the grass to the side in great arm gulps, pushes up, and crablike moves towards camera. A yellow spot remains immobile at the centre of the otherwise green and black screen. It may be apparent by now that I have longed to go to the Faroes for many years. This film was far more than imaginative transport, however. It seemed not to posit an impossible relationship between the people and the landscape; instead the black-clad figures became high-speed embodiments of the geological ultraslow dance of the land itself, the magma.

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