WINTER ASHES // live show / 2019
Collaborating for the first time on an original audio-visual artefact, Ali M. Demirel and Anthony Linell have developed a stunning and unsettling work that studies the Icelandic landscape as a motor for mythology. Titled 'Winter Ashes,' our senses search for logical order and signifiers with which to measure our relation to both the visual and aural elements, and in detailing the inhuman scale and structure of the region in this way, a hypnotic ambivalence regarding our place seemingly haunts the work.
The nucleus of 'Winter Ashes' is the relationship between landscape and mythology. This relationship, however, immediately takes us into a realm of contradiction. In its most common usage, landscape refers to the visual aspects of any given terrain over and above any innate physical properties. Additionally, landscape, in its verb form, is used to describe the construction and reconfiguration of terrain by the human hand. Our aesthetic preferences are from the outset privileged in the concept of landscape: it obeys our eyes. In distinction to this is mythology: stories upon stories that tell but don't show the gods. Making sense of landscape in unison with mythology is to train our visual faculties towards seeing what is concealed, if not to simply try and get a sense of what is completely and surely unobservable.
Iceland's unearthly appearance is something else, and it arguably lends itself well to such a complex task as that which Demirel and Linell imaginatively demand of it. In short, this is to say that it readily preferences the sublime form. Situating this demand historically, 'Winter Ashes' is inspired by the long and fragmented history of recording and retrieving Norse mythology, just as it is the mythology itself. The Codex Regius, a compendium of Old Norse poems that has been dated to the 13th century, and the 'Edda', a collective term for two volumes of medieval Icelandic literary works of which the the Codex Regius is connected, both serve as points of reference. All were lost for periods of time throughout the centuries, and sections of each remain lost forever. As promptly as these documents tell the stories of Norse mythology, they register how easily these stories recede from the written form back into the landscape. It seems truer to look to the latter over the former, persistently morphing, as the eternal volatile setting for these stories. 'Winter Ashes' makes this ambiguous task its point of departure.
Words by Patrick Quick