Spill I-III is filmed almost entirely around the volcano Mount Etna in Sicily. The experimental three-channel video, Deborah-Joyce Holman departs from Glissant’s “tremblement”.
“The earth is trembling. Systems of thought have been demolished, and there are no more straight paths. There are endless floods, eruptions, earthquakes, fires. Today, the world is unpredictable and in such a world, utopia is necessary. But utopia needs trembling thinking: we cannot discuss utopia with fixed ideas. (…) What I call tremblement is neither incertitude nor fear. It is not what paralyzes us. Trembling thinking is the instinctual feeling that we must refuse all categories of fixed and imperial thought. Tremblement is thinking in which we can lose time, lose time searching, in which we can wander and in which we can counter all the systems of terror, domination, and imperialism with the poetics of trembling—it allows us to be in real contact with the world and with the peoples of the world.”
Édouard Glissant, “Archipelago Conversations”
Spill I-III utilises the strategies of asemic writing that can function beyond linguistic understanding. Asemic writing is a wordless, open form of writing that conveys no specific meaning. The camera shots take their time for details in the landscape, wander, get lost. The soundtrack by Yantan Ministry breathes with the landscape and our bodies. Voices rise and ebb away. These sounds, movements and touches do not seek a destination, but find contact with the world in different ways.
The presence of the volcanic landscape reminds very physically that the now solid surface used to be liquid. It speaks of the lasting change of the landscape by flowing spill. Thus, the work evokes another of Glissant’s ideas: archipelagic thinking. It is intuitive, emphasising the unpredictable, the unstable. Forms and connections are random, temporary, fragile and are constantly being formed anew.
Deborah-Joyce Holman has chosen an intuitive approach for Spill I-III. The work’s aspects are interwoven guided by the intelligence of the body. Visitors encounter an audio-visual poem through the association of images on the projection screens and the physically experienced sound. Spill I-III invites to rethink ways of relating to the world, mediated through a camera.
3-channel film, 4K UHD
5.1 surround sound
By Deborah Joyce Holman
Performers: Phoebe Collings-James, Bernice Mulenga, Mawena Yehouessi
DoP: Jim C. Nedd
Camera Operator: Antonio Annese
Sound Recordist: Sebastiano Caceffo
Producer: Letizia Gullo
Production assistant: Shantelle Palmer
Styling: Alice Lushima
Editing: Deborah Joyce Holman
Colour Grade: Andrea Vavassori
Score: Yantan Ministry
Vocalist: Makeda Monnet, Deborah Joyce Holman
Field recordings: Deborah Joyce Holman
Mixing & Mastering: Fitzrovia Post
Conceived by Deborah Joyce Holman & Tarek Lakhrissi
With some images directed by Tarek Lakhrissi
Featuring Nisha Ramayya’s poem Joy of the Eyes, published in States of the Body produced by Love (Ignota, 2019)
Commissioned by Istituto Svizzero in co-production with Confort Moderne Poitiers, Nottingham Contemporary and Shedhalle Zurich, upon original proposition by Caroline Honorien
Clelia Bartoli, Canan Batur, Phila Bergmann, Yann Chevallier, Gioia Dal Molin, Thea Reifler, Marged Siôn, Maxim Young
The practice of Deborah-Joyce Holman (lives and works between London, UK and Basel, Switzerland) is concerned with the relationship between popular visual cultures and capital and the intertwined politics of representation. Holman contrasts the exploitative potential of how images collide with capital with approaches of artistic and cinematic subversion, repetition and refusal using differing approaches across media such as video, sculpture and painting. Their work has recently been shown at Kunsthalle Bern, Simian, Copenhagen, Galerie Gregor Staiger, Biennale für Freiburg, Oregon Contemporary (all 2023), Cordova, Barcelona; and Istituto Svizzero, Palermo (both 2022), among others.
From 2020-2022, Holman worked at East London arts organisation Auto Italia as Associate Director. They were the founding director of 1.1, a platform for early-career practitioners in arts, music and text-based practices, with an exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland, which ran 2015 – 2020. Deborah-Joyce has curated the 2018 and 2019 annual group exhibitions for the arts and music festival Les Urbaines, Lausanne.