»We are of the sea,
and the sea is of us.«
Deborah Cramer, science writer
Arnis Residency is an annual programme that invites contemporary artists to live and work on a half-island in Northern Germany. With only 279 inhabitants and the size of 0.45m2, Arnis is not just the smallest town of Germany, but also a place of great events. Its history of sea related industries remains visible in the functioning shipyards, fisherboats, port facilities as well as in the production sites for sails and nautical charts. Arnis Residency aims to bring new perspectives in, from which to encounter a world increasingly characterised by connections and flows.
During the second edition of the residency, Sophie Mackfall, Sara Trillo and Diana Duta have been producing a body of work that includes painting, installation and sound. The residency culminated in a one-day exhibition titled The Current is Coming Towards Us.
Arnis lies by a body of water that is a transition zone between river and maritime environments. The water that surrounds it is therefore subjected to both marine influences and riverine influxes, being the flow of currents one of the most prominent phenomena that affects any sort of water-based activity.
As much as currents are caused by the weather, some of the works have been subjected to climate such as in the paintings of Sophie Mackfall, not only in the production of the works themselves as she is been painting outside, but also in the way the shapes in the final canvases flap in the wind.
Diana Duta has been developing a sound piece also influenced by movement, looking into how umlaut is generated in the different tongues of Arnis’ people. Voices moving through bodies, bodies moving in migration to other places through water. Likewise affected by the changes of tides, Sara Trillo’s practice has been informed by materials found in Arnis with which she has constructed the finds of a poetical search.
Sara Trillo (Ramsgate, UK) uses the notion of the quest as a process to search for something that is difficult to find, in this case traces of the Angles, - Germanic peoples who settled in Great Britain. While performing her own expeditions to specific coastal places in South East England and around Arnis, Trillo has been collecting materials to form a marine palette with which she constructs artefacts that relate to mythological, historical and fictional stories even though their functionality might not be clear.
Recent projects include ‘On Margate Sands’, a Turner Contemporary/Tate Britain archives commission 2016; ‘Localism and Legacy’, an ACE funded archives commission at the Fleur de Lys Museum, Faversham 2016; and ‘The Beaney Broadsheet’, residency and exhibition in response to the museum collection at The Beaney in Canterbury 2015.
Sophie Mackfall (York, UK) makes paintings into collages that are informed by the environment in which they are produced. Through painting canvases and sails, cutting them up and stitching them together, she deconstructs a body of work that has been influenced by the colours of Arnis, the horizontal and vertical lines of boats and landscapes, as well as by weather conditions such as rain and wind.
Recent exhibitions include ‘Ass to the Wind’, Brett Manor (London, 2017); The Bluecoat, Liverpool Biennale, (2016); Shaping Time, SCAN (London, 2017); and ‘What’s it going to be?’ Sid Motion Gallery (London, 2016).
Diana Duta (Bucharest, ROU) investigates how sound travels within our vocal tracts to produce an ‘Umlaut’, the assimilation of two sounds into one. A process that took place in many languages including German and English through migrations of people to other regions. By recording some of Arnis’ residents voices and mixing them with the equivalent vowels of the English language, Duta creates a soundscape that contemplates movement – in language and territory – across time.
Recent projects include the performance ‘Having purple eyes’, Rollaversion Gallery, London; Peryton Copenhagen, Buktapaktop, Bruxelles, 2018; a translation of a reportage by Surrealist writer Geo Bogza (published online on Hotel Magazine, 2017); and an album of sound and language loops inspired by bureaucratic language (‘Dear Interpreter’, 2016).