DON'T RUN OVER THE BIRDS PLEASE (art action, video and drawing) 2006
notes from a working journal..
A train rolls into London's Brixton and a day's videoshoot kicks off this urban experience. I look for poetry in the mundane, celebrated in the politics of graffiti or the sounds of the street: market voices, street dancing, an overhead train or a screaming siren, fused with other sounds and smells.. someone hacking raw meat.. crushing coffee beans, mincing spices, frying early breakfast.. This territory is a nomadic trajectory of fluid "crossroads" where people traffic through, stop, take root and stratify, and then move on. Camera in hand, myself the traveller, I am both insider and outsider. Deterritorialised space is questioned through a sense of the itinerary - the multistrata of society on the move, richly varied, convivial, yet dislocated and risky at the same time. This multilayering is matched to the dynamics of the screen; a synthesis of disjunctions, examining also the boundaries of the outsider in its gaps, splits and ruptures. The film taps into the urban rhythms of a slice of city, aligning these into the spatial segmentation of my timeline. In this sense the piece choreographs time and movement into durée, contemplating video as performance. And the jig ends as the journey begins… to the beat of my thoughts and my train, drumming and tumbling out of the Brixton tube..
EXHIBITION TEXT by Richard Davies
Delivered Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, 17 March, 2006
Published Sunday Times of Malta, 26 March, 2006
DON'T RUN OVER THE BIRDS, PLEASE
video installation & movie sketches by ruth bianco
Richard Davies, Director of Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts in the UK, flew over to Malta specifically to inaugurate "don't run over the birds, please". The following summarises his opening speech delivered on 17th March at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
If you take the London underground's Victoria Line to its final destination on the south side of the city, you will arrive at Brixton. And on arrival, if you turn left into Electric Avenue, you will enter a world where parrot fish from the Seychelles hang out to dry; where you can buy six-inch snails from Nigeria; where you can purchase brightly coloured cottons from the Caribbean; where you will hear an ongoing backdrop of reggae, rhythm and blues, jazz and calypso; and where the Londonisation of Creole takes place. Walk on through and you will come across music clubs like the famous Brixton Academy and from here you can enter Dexter Square where you will find a plaque commemorating the great Bob Marley who was a regular visitor to Brixton, and if you then cut across into Electric Lane, you will enter a cul-de-sac where there is a side of a building with a large hand-sprayed graffiti message saying "don't run over the birds, please". For, I was there when Ruth Bianco courageously wrote these words as a cry for greater awareness and respect for this extraordinary multi-cultured community, and also when she returned to video these streets of Brixton. Let's be clear, it is not for the fainthearted to publicly film amidst such a proud society which has for over a hundred years battled to stake its claim on the land in which people live and trade.
And now I am in Malta celebrating the inaugural showing of this undoubtedly remarkable work by Ruth Bianco which forms a powerful mix of fine art and documentary, and in so doing converges upon what this artist would describe as the phenomena "of this deterritorialised space". It is a 15-minute movie with a compelling sense of social awareness which engages the audience as if viewing a significant historical document. "Don't run over the birds, please" is a sound projection that taps into the urban rhythms of a remix culture. The key success of this work is the sheer skill and dexterity of the complex interaction of sound and image along with the use of an innovative third invisible language when the movie cleverly cuts into total darkness asking you, the audience, to absorb and reflect. The screen becomes broken into fractures and segments appropriately echoing the multi-juxtaposed layering of a complex society. And then you will find upon leaving this Brixton experience that the camera throws you back into the tube journey from where you came, where one's world dramatically changes into the safer and more conventional suburbs of London. The easy and spontaneous use of camera work allows for an informal engagement of the audience with the dynamic interplay of the spatial and temporal. For this work clearly rests within the contemporary onslaught that new technologies has had upon fine art practice and the way in which our understanding of time has radically changed and transformed art language.
Accompanied with this video you will also see a selection of sketch drawings inspired from stills from the video work. Their deftness and charm brilliantly connect the viewer with the dancing movements so graphically expressed in the video. "Drawing from movies" adds a further dimension to the thinking, calibre and style of Ruth Bianco's work and research as an artist.
I am delighted to have been asked to open this show and suggest you now see for yourselves this poignant artwork. Thank you.
Director of Fine Art
University for the Creative Arts
Kent, UK 2006
don't run over the birds please
In 2003 an improvised installation took place in Electric Lane, Brixton, involving graffiti and street-found objects (shopping trolley, traffic cone, stripped billboards) as a study of reclaimed territory and its shaping. This event was recorded in a photograph (EXTerritorio, limited edition photograph, 2003).
A videoshoot followed, developed as a 15-minute film in 2006. This work sits between fine art and documentary as a work that looks for poetry in the mundane, examining territory through a sense of the itinerary - as a fluid nomadic space for relocation and transboundary movement. The disjunctions of a remix and multilayered society such as London's Brixton are matched to the dynamics of the screen.
video installation in the contemporary rooms of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta 2006