DURATIONAL PERFORMANCE AT BUZZCUT FESTIVAL GLASGOW
'Between the Earth and Her Skin, inside the dying place.
Suffocating in the deepest darkest part of myself. As the last weight of shoveled earth is dumped on my head, the reality hits as to what I am about to embark on, fighting death, a task I gave myself. As the children above me ask the adults, ‘is she going to be ok in there’, “how will we know if she’s still breathing”, I ask myself the same questions. Already ten breaths in and I’m struggling to breathe and the pressure of the 2 tones of soil above and below me start to have physical implications. I am lying on my front so my ribs cant expand and my stomach cant inflate, What I thought would be a hug in the earth is turning out to be a grapple, the mere weight of the gritty soil on top of me and the shortness of breath matched against the duration I set myself to endure a work which looked peaceful and introspective on the outside but a slowed down nightmare inside. As adults and children alike come into the space and take one of the 100 envelopes that I hand stamped and hand made containing individual parcels of Motherwort seeds, Motherwort being a symbol of strength, love and of the mother. Participants are welcomed into the space to plant these seeds in between in the lavender plants and above my body in the soil that shifts and moves with my inhalations and exhalations. After planting the seeds, participants water the soil above me, making the earth heavier and damp.
After ninety minutes (about five thousand and 400 hundred seconds), feeling every single beat of my heart, using the whole of my body to suck the smallest amount of air in and out through a small tube that has now locked my jaw. The pressure on my skull from the weight of the almighty force above me is now too much, I am dizzy and falling deeper. I can feel my organs fighting for oxygen but the weight is too much to match my mere 7-½ stone and can’t find the energy to push out. It literally felt like I had to fight for my life.
After what felt like hours I finally get my head out, I have a cotton bag over my head to protect my eyes and nose, my arms wont move, I am numb, I pull the bag over my head with my jelly arms and the light stings my eyes. I wait a moment, trying to pull myself together, sucking in the air like a newborn. It takes me some time to pull to my feet and I’m shaking, I cant stop my body from shaking, my jaw is stuck, my throat is burning, my heart is pumping, my skull is aching, my ribs are bruising. I milk my right breast, trembling; I pour it into the same watering can used to water the seeds. I fertilised that soil, the place where I went to fight myself, straight into the body pit I left behind. I gather some soil in my hands and encourage participants to do the same, we walk together to the land outside. We take the seeds and the soil to their resting place, one by one.
There was a period after making this piece when I was not able to close my eyes without my body going into shock, my body felt stripped of its spirit and drive. Sometimes you make art and it lifts you, it beats your heart. This piece will forever feel like a place that nearly broke me. My body climbed out of that earthly cave but my head did not.' An unfiltered response to 'Between the Earth and Her Skin', by Nicola Canavan. Performed at Buzzcut, Glasgow 2015