Nostalgia Analgesic

A Surrealist Therapy

(Mud  |Blood  | Fire |Water  | Blackness | Sight | Unknown)


nostalgia is a formation of  Greek compounds, consisting of νόστος, nóstos, “returning home”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος, álgos, “pain” or “ache”. The word analgesic derives from Greek an- (“without”) and algos (“pain”).

This collaborative project (poetry, visual art, sound) which is currently in progress  builds on a previous collaboration Continental Drift by myself and  poet Sheila Black which formed an exhibition  at the Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh 2010.  We are delighted that sound artist Lynne Therman has also  joined the project. check out Lynne’s blog:

Nostalgia/Analgesic will explore the origins, problems and potential outlets of nostalgia, and the nostalgic as both “analgesia” and a source of “pain,” through a combination of  objects, paintings/drawings, sound, lyric and hybrid (lyric essay) poetry.

See work in progress

Using postcards, letters, emails of our 30 year correspondence as a starting point we will identify subject areas or ‘Elements’ to be considered within the project. The term ‘Elements’ derives from the surrealist novel Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst in which he collaged ideas and images from multiple sources structuring it to contain 7 days and 7 corresponding ‘Deadly Elements’ (MUD, WATER ,FIRE, BLOOD, BLACKNESS, SIGHT, UNKNOWN). Une Semaine de Bonte has been described as projecting “recurrent themes of sexuality and violence, by dislocating the visual significance of the source material to suggest what has been repressed.”

In a similar way we will examine, juxtapose and reconfigure the elements of our friendship in order to uncover/discover the recurrent themes and narratives of intimacy and nostalgia in all their beauty, horror, humour and absurdity.

During a structured period of research which will include correspondence, scheduled ‘exchanges’ of artefacts and ideas and our own creative practices, we will translate these  into 14 objects/texts/sounds.

By examining our correspondence through a ‘Surrealist  filter’ we will  reinterpret the ideas, thoughts and experiences of thirty years. By imposing a structured regime to the collaboration itself, including events (both on and offline) where we will publicize our discoveries and invite participation from others, we will be compelled to consider approaches and solutions that would otherwise not present themselves. We will take an innovative approach to documenting this process and do so across a range of media including web, print, moving image and painting/drawing, which will in effect be the main body of work produced.

Nostalgia is a trigger that draws people in. It provides an alternative understanding of temporality and is a way to address the vast array of truths available now via traditional and emerging media – but it is not without its risks, both personal and political. We will address these issues within the framework of a collaborative process that allows an intimate discourse between the artists and also invites participation and interpretation from others.

Yearning and longing are powerful emotions. Through this process we hope to reveal the dynamics of nostalgia as well as a means to critique it.

Nostalgia/Analgesic will be exhibited at The Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh in October 2013


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