Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Rest and Be Thankful - Of Little Consequence
Rest and Be Thankful Presentation Of Little Consequence
The words Rest and Be Thankful appear on the 1:25000 scale Ordnance Survey map in two very separate locations. Near Brighton, just south of Southwick Hill, at map ref. TQ239070 and in Argyll just north of
Taking the A83 west out of Tarbet on the banks of Loch Lomond, through Arrochar, winding along the valley floor of Glen Croe and climbing steeply past Ben Arthur and up to a high mountain pass between Beinn an Lochain and Beinn Luibhean you reach the point 256 metres above sea level named Rest and Be Thankful. A stone erected on the highest point of the A83 by army sappers who built the original road in 1753. This vantage point offers the weary traveller the chance to survey a vista across Loch Restil and the surrounding valleys. Subject of poems by William Wordsworth and war poet S.J Robinson, appearing in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, used by car manufacturers to test new products and a key point on the Argyll Classic Car Run this unusually named beauty spot is more famous than it’s delicately indicative name would suggest.
Among other disparate things Rest and Be Thankful is also a traditional Scottish Jig, a lull or quiet time between the first and second stages of labour, a Christian Organization committed to helping others find their own Sabbath, a time for rest and relaxation, a book by Helen McInnes and an inn on Exmoor.
The southern Rest and Be Thankful, much less an awe inspiring viewpoint, but still loved by locals, dog walkers and proponents of the technologically sophisticated treasure hunt Geocache (who use it to hide a cache), is approachable from the south by a rugged path leading from the outskirts of Southwick halfway to Thunders Barrow on the side of Southwick Hill. This Rest and Be Thankful is also a stone. A sarsen stone; the remains of a cap of tertiary sandstone which once covered much of southern
The two sites named Rest and Be Thankful, the one in
To rest, to pause, to enjoy a hiatus, are all choices that take us away from the treachery of the everyday work ethic. Incessant work is dangerous. GE Lessing wrote, "Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, and in being lazy." The Idler magazine, started in 1758 by Dr Johnson, revived almost a century later by Jerome K Jerome (author of such wonderful books as Three Men in a Boat and Idle Thoughts for an Idle Fellow) and then again in the 1990s by Tom Hodgkinson, promotes, as the title suggests, all things idle. As their website states, “The intention of the magazine is to return dignity to the art of loafing, to make idling into something to aspire towards rather than reject”. The idle way is also, as they argue, an eco-friendly, an ethical and a personally beneficial approach to life. To loaf, is to not meddle with ecology or economy. It is a state that capitalist countries reject because to be idle is to step outside their area of control. If one doesn’t care for an increase of capital one is useless to a burgeoning economy. If you don’t feel the need to acquire a proliferation of material goods, commodities, the ruling powers have no control over your aspirations. To rest, to step back from this profit driven society is to take your own life seriously. I reject, or I negate, the logic of capitalism and therefore I have made a choice to approach the world in different ways. But, how difficult has it become to fully reject that logic entirely? The truth is that a certain amount of capitalism works. The ability to purchase good foods, wine, music, to enjoy the benefits of a socialist state that supports endeavors such as the arts, or supports the poor, the people on low income, or out of work is all excellent. Thirtyfive-a wouldn’t exist without these things. I am able to do this only because we pay taxes that, in part, are paid into a benefit system, a benefit system that pays for my housing. We are only able to produce work because we have the time to do so without the pressures of having to turn a profit. Some of us are only able to live because others want to buy what we produce, whether that’s websites, artwork, design, our knowledge, our ability to pour pints, or wait at tables, whatever. However, there is a great difference between the work to live (living within your means) and work to accrue. The person working to accrue, or accumulate more possessions does so because they believe these things will make them happier.
Community, or rather, the enunciation of autonomous, singular beings within the sphere of community relies upon rests. It operates exactly because lines of community are produced across the irreducible gap between the singular. As Jean Luc
Shown by the proliferation of material about, in particular, the Scottish site, and the communal history of the Sussex site (in that it operated to literally hold up the centre of Southwick community, but before that was quite possibly a communal spot used to sharpen tools) the two Rest and Be Thankfuls are very much the expression of community. Because, as we have seen, with Nancy, it relies upon fragmentation; in that community is not an aggregation of individuals, not a reductive force, but more of feeling of a shared moment. Perhaps a moment such as the moving of a stone from one site to another, which would have been the responsibility of the members of the parish (not as today where the church would employ some building company or the like to shift it), or the moment of building a long and treacherous road up Scottish mountains. One can imagine the formation of the community around these two very separate sites, the nineteenth century parish men carting the stone a mile up the hill and celebrating roundly their achievement in the local inn that night, the eighteenth century sappers stopping for a bite to eat on their arduous construction and inscribing a stone with their very thoughts. Rest and Be Thankful.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Untitled (equivalence) at the Fringe Basement
For this exhibition Trevatt & Dingle performed an excavation of the Fringe Basement space prior to its refurbishment. All the stored material (including chairs, tables, artist's work, debris etc) was removed from the store rooms at the rear of the space and methodically arranged in the main gallery space. In the store rooms in the depths of the basement the artists erected a series of tight corridors and tunnels with translucent dust sheets. Rustling with the slightest breeze these dust sheets, lit eerily by halogen lights on tripods, produced a filmic sense of space. For the first time members of the public were allowed into the recesses of the old printing basement.