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Brighton CCA

A new centre for
contemporary arts at the
University of Brighton

This event is part of Dorset Place

Brighton CCA: Dorset Place will host an iteration of Volcano Mother, a series by Holly Birtles that references Susan Sontag’s fiction novel Volcano Lover.

Volcano Lover is a love story set in 18th century Naples based on Emma and Sir William Hamilton including depictions of regular trips up Mount Vesuvius and obsessive collecting from the surface of the volcano. Volcano Mother represents a pseudo production presenting backstage and rehearsal instances whereby members of the cast contemplate and practice their role as selected volcanoes. Elaborate props are made in which represent volcanic surface and structure; the props are always designed to be wearable outfits. These choreographed performance pieces, explore singing, spoken word and movement. The short performances are recorded through the photographic medium during the staged events. Performances represent volatile emissions of gas, ash, and dust, including inner dialogs linked to eruptions and hot spots. Volcano Mother conveys vulnerability through humorous and serious performances, bringing attention to associated ecologies linked to selected volcanoes.

Holly Birtles’ photographic practice incorporates performance, prop production and digital and analogue techniques and is informed by multi-disciplinary collaborations with writers and musicians. Birtles’ work is concerned with sensorial discrepancies between the suggested experience and the flat surface of the image. She seeks to play with experiential loss via two-dimensional documentation of often bulbous and tactile objects, along with sound-based performances. The props function as ephemeral wearable environments which are choreographed into subject responsive performances. Props and performances often incorporate operatic song, spoken word and tactile drawings; all elements are silenced and flattened through the process of photographic documentation. The imagery embraces the implication of tactility and sound. Birtles exhibits internationally and continues to work with musicians, artists and writers in London, Berlin and New York.

Dorset Place is Brighton CCA’s project space and hosts a series of short projects and exhibitions by emerging artists, organisations, curators and students. With a fast changing programme, the space is an exciting platform for experimentation, collaboration and engagement with new ideas and voices. Dorset Place allows us to be responsive, initiating and supporting projects which stand alone or connect to our wider programme. The space is offered free of charge with curatorial, marketing and limited technical support.

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