July 28, 2023
Piers Greville’s ‘What Is Here’ is being exhibited at the European Nomadic Biennial ‘Manifesta 14’ from 22.07. – 30.10.22, as part of Petrit Abazi’s curatorial premise ‘Unbordering Worlds: New Narratives for Northern Kosovo’.
This stationary swimming was surveilled by a flower-meter in the water and camera overhead, mounted on surveyors poles. The data was then video streamed to the Grand Hotel Prishtina, room 506, and projected onto the hotel’s green carpet which forms the centre panel of a triptych, in between two flags drawn on silk. The flags represent the terrain on either side of the River Ibar. As maps, these flags show no paths; as landscapes, no horizon; and as flags they claim no territory.
Regarding the silk flags, the artist says: “My great uncle had old maps from the 1940s which he had used in World War II, monitoring the advance of the Imperial Japanese army. His maps were printed on silk, so as not to tear in the fierce humid winds in those old planes. I picture these maps flapping in his hands, flying through the highlands, themselves forming an endlessly shifting terrain over contested territories.”
The work’s title ‘What Is Here’ is not a question nor an answer, but an evocation of the struggle to remain in defiance of the current. A conscious presence brought about by the meditative focus of stationary river swimming. In the mind of the swimmer, as the sound is distorted and suppressed, the eyes are trained on three pebbles which become still markers on the riverbed. In the chaotic struggle to remain, the marker becomes the focus and essence of ‘staying with the trouble’. The people of the two Mitrovicas are also in this struggle: they remain, due to their steadfast action in spite of pressures flowing from far away.
Piers would like acknowledge the working support of Mark Simpson and Manifesta 14 Prishtina for their commission.
Image caption: Piers Greville, 2022, ‘What is Here’, performance, live stream projection and ink on silk flags. Photographs taken by Marcello Maranzan.
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