SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY | Hanna Tuulikki
1 July – 27 August 2017
SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY is an audio-visual installation that flows between gesture and sound, inspired by the mnemonic landscapes of India and the relationships between river-systems and the human body.
At the heart of the work is a gestural sequence known as Nadi Varnana (River Description), from the Kutiyattam tradition – a form of Sanskrit theatre practiced in Kerala, and one of India’s oldest living performing arts. Through a range of exaggerated gestures made with the eyes and hands, it embodies the watershed mimetically, representing the river cycle as a sequence of codified movements – the first rain on the mountaintop, rivulets becoming mountain streams, fast flowing river, and, the completion of a slow meander to the sea.
Beginning as a novice, over the course of a month-long residency in 2016, Tuulikki learned the Nadi Varnana cycle, tutored by her friend and mentor Kapila Venu, a gifted practitioner of Kutiyattam. In SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY Tuulikki adapts this traditional sequence into a performance-for-camera with three interlinked films incorporating choreography, vocal composition, and costume, embodying the flow of water from source to mouth.
Traditionally accompanied by mimetic percussion, which evokes the river’s formation and flow, Tuulikki has created a vocal composition for her version, from multiple-layered vocals whose drum-like sounds conjure up the original percussion, playfully and poetically depicting the sounds of rain, wind, insects, and the effects of water in motion.
SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY is a work of hydrological expression, as universal as it is local.
SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY was commissioned for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016. Its presentation in Timespan’s riverside gallery is the first exhibition of the work since its premiere in India. It is also the first exhibition in Timespan’s Deep Time programme which runs throughout 2017/18.
Hanna Tuulikki is an artist, composer and performer who works primarily with voice and gesture, creating immersive spaces that unearth an essential relationship with the lore of places. Performances and films combine costume, staging, and sculptural objects, often within unconventional settings. Photography, drawing, text, and innovative visual-scores extend the work, illustrating subject-matter, creative process, and narrative. Recent projects explored mnemonic topographies: the land encoded in the song, the lore embedded in the land; mimetic protolanguage: a lexicon of signing voice and singing body; and vocal androgyny: experiments in extended voice technique.
Her largest project to date, Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds (2010-2015) is a body of work investigating the mimesis of birds in Scottish Gaelic song. At the heart of the project is a vocal composition Guth an Eòin | Voice of the Bird, written for a female vocal ensemble, reinterpreting archive, fragmenting and then re-weaving extracts of songs into an extended soundscape. In August 2014 it was performed in the harbour on the Isle of Canna, as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. A digital, interactive iteration of the work, commissioned by The Space, was launched in August 2015.
Other recent works and exhibitions include Women of the Hill (2015), live performance and film commissioned by ATLAS for High Pasture Cave on the Isle of Skye – a song-cycle for three female vocalists, responding to the archaeology and topography of an iron-age, matrifocal, sacred site; SING SIGN: a close duet (2015), live performance and film installation commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival for historic ‘closes’ – a vocal and gestural suite, with a baroque-inspired, score for a male and female duo derived from a 1765 map of the city; heart-to-heart (2014), bronze bells cast from a heart-shaped stone, made and performed as part of Alec Finlay’s Taigh: a wilding garden, a National Memorial for Organ and Tissue Donors in Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh; A Rose in the Dawn | A Wake to the Dream (2014) lithographs of two pictorial alphabets commissioned by GSA Exhibitions for Spheres of Influence II at the Reid Gallery; spinning-in-stereo, a composition for two voices, based on a traditional Gaelic spinning song, presented as a visual score and vinyl LP for GENERATION at The Travelling Gallery (2014); Guth an Eòin | Voice of the Bird, pen & ink visual score at Cape Farewell’s Sea Change exhibition, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, (2013-2014) and Between the Late and Early, RSA (2013); sea saw the circle (2012), a composition for string quartet and musical saw, using conventional notation resolved into an innovative visual score, commissioned by The Red Note Ensemble; High-slack-low-slack-high (2012), a site-specific composition and performance for four voices and megaphones, using tidal data for the River Clyde and performed on Bell’s Bridge as part of Glasgow International.
SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY was commissioned for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016. It was made in collaboration with Kapila Venu (Kutiyattam mentor & choreography); Daniel Warren (film); Pete Smith (final sound mix); Emily Millichip (costume maker); Beinn Watson (production consultant); Amy Porteous (production management).
Its production was supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, The British Council, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and CCA Glasgow, and its presentation at Timespan is supported by Creative Scotland. With special thanks to Kapila Venu, Di Ball and Mahin Manu.
Image credit: Hanna Tuulikki, SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY (film still), 2016. Courtesy of the artist.