For those who haven’t been following the project “An Artist A Farmer and a Scientist walk into a bar…”, I am participating by repeating a work I did in 2014 at Hill End, “A Hole for Hill End”, in which I dug a hole for a number of ironic and non ironic reasons in the historic gold mining town Hill End. You can read about it here, because I blogged about it, which means that I won’t have to blog about it here.
Anyway, that’s the past and this is the present, and in the present I am repeating what I did in the past, with modifications. That’s the way things go. The idea to repurpose the work for the current project came from the director of our partner organisation The Living Classroom, Rick Hutton, who suggested KSCA might produce a permanent public artwork for The Living Classroom as a part of AFS. I’m not a fan of public artwork (which you can read about here) and was uneasy at the prospect. I eventually came around to the idea of digging the hole. The original hole was ephemeral, and I filled it in after completing it but this time I proposed to make it permanent. My immediate rationale was that it would be an art work that wouldn’t result in a work of art, but instead would produce a classroom. It occurred to me that this was just what The Living Classroom needed. As a facility dedicated to disseminating understanding of regenerative agriculture, horticulture, permaculture, ie the land, their work was exclusively carried out above ground, across which you could walk and talk about what was happening underneath you. What they needed, I reasoned, was a classroom that allowed people to experience the land from the inside. And so the hole. I know from personal experience how wonderful it is to be in a hole and thought yes, this is an experience I can contribute.
So that was the shining dream. The grubby reality, as we should expect, was a different matter, and thus the title for this blog post. The reason I am starting on day three is that I originally came up to do this residency months ago and promptly fell sick. I got a little work done, but eventually I packed it in after completing roughly two days of work. Now that I am returned, the structure for the project is in shambles. I’m not sure what I’m doing nor why, but that won’t stop me from doing it. In fact, the exact same thing happened the first time. I had some rather clever structure in place that would govern the limits of the work, setting it at five eight hour days a week for one month and this would determine the depth of the hole. This was meant to make some kind of comment on work itself or something. Yet, it almost immediately became impossible to complete because… I kept getting paid work in the city that meant I couldn’t complete the schedule I had set for myself. Oh Irony.
In the end, it greatly improved the work, discarding an arbitrary limit and reducing the work to what it was… work.
So I am starting on the third day and looking forward to whatever improvement this collapse of intention will deliver to the project. I have no idea what it is, nor whether it will come. I suppose I will just have to dig for it.