Afterness

Selected Artists

Orford Ness, Suffolk
NOW 01 July 2021 - 30 October 2021
Visitor informationTickets

In a time of plague, in the middle of another continent. I must imagine a shingle spit – Ilya Kaminsky

Afterness is Artangel’s first hybrid physical and online exhibition.

The physical exhibition, a series of new commissions by artists working across multiple mediums, takes place on Orford Ness, a windswept strip of land stretching several miles along the Suffolk coast with a unique path of white shingle reaching the North Sea. Protected by the National Trust as a nature reserve since 1995, the Ness is a decommissioned military testing site known locally as the ‘island of secrets’, where research into weaponry and covert radio systems was conducted between the First World War and the Cold War. This will be the first time visitors will discover sited large-scale artworks by artists from the UK shores and beyond at Orford Ness. 

A group of artists have made new works created in response to the singular environment and hidden history of Orford Ness, including sculpture, drawing and sound installation. Visitors can follow suggested walking routes that pair the terrain with the new sited and audio artworks available to experience.

Online, a programme of commissions made on Orford Ness is available to experience, with new work by artists Brian d'Souza, Paul Maheke, Rachel Pimm and Graham Cunnington, drawing on specific points of inspiration from the visited or imagined landscape. 


Image: A pagoda pictured from the distance on Orford Ness, April 2021. Photograph: Johny Pitts.

Alice Channer, Lethality and Vulnerability

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Alice Channer, Lethality and Vulnerability

Brambles are nature’s equivalent to barbed wire – designed to protect and deter. Inside The Shelter, a small building located next to Black Beacon, London-based artist Alice Channer will install a new sculpture comprising a tangle of bramble-like growths, shaped from rolled aluminium bars, with sharp thorns welded onto the metal. The sculpture will be presented alongside architectural models of some of Orford Ness’s distinctive military buildings, left inside the shelter, entangled with the growths that push up from the ground towards the light.   

Lethality and Vulnerability, the title of Channer’s sculpture, refers to military trials conducted on Orford Ness between 1938 and 1959 to test the vulnerability of the bodies of aircraft to attack. It also implies the soft bodies of plants and animals (including humans).

Many of the military structures on Orford Ness are now ruins, overwhelmed by the elements and overgrown by vegetation. Channer’s sculpture evokes nature’s resilience, but also the fall-out from experiments that produce mutations.


Image: Alice Channer, Lethality and Vulnerability, on Orford Ness, June 2021. Photograph: Thierry Bal.

Ilya Kaminsky, I See a Silence

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Ilya Kaminsky, I See a Silence

Ukrainian/American poet Ilya Kaminsky’s most recent work Deaf Republic was heralded as one of the most original books of 2019.

I See a Silence, his new lyric work for Artangel, combines poetry and prose to form the centrepiece of a soundscape for walking the Ness, produced by acclaimed audio designer Axel Kacoutié with the voices of Neil Brennan, Ilya Kaminsky and Zakia Sewell.

Drawn to the singular ecology of the landscape and the flora and fauna that both preceded and survived decades of weapons research, Kaminsky’s ‘poetry of place’ uncannily evokes a landscape of the imagination. The journey begins at the Bomb Ballistics building, where a panoramic viewing platform looks out across the vast shingle stretching towards the sea.

I See a Silence can be experienced on headphones whilst walking between the different buildings on Orford Ness.


Image: Ilya Kaminsky’s sound walk, I See a Silence on Orford Ness, June 2021. Photograph: Thierry Bal.

Emma McNally, The river that flows nowhere, like a sea

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Emma McNally, The river that flows nowhere, like a sea

A long drift of silvery substance hanging low in the darkened space – shadowy, and occasionally glinting, as if shot through with moonlight – this form is in fact created purely from paper, crumpled and covered with complex graphite drawings invoking the cosmos from atom to planet. – Laura Cumming, The Observer

Emma McNally has created a single large-scale graphite drawing on paper, approximately nine metres in length, made for the Armoury, a building once used to house elements of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE). 

Inspired by the knowledge that the AWRE research programmes on Orford Ness led directly to a series of test explosions in the deserts of western Australia, McNally explores in her drawing the atomic and the atmospheric, the microcosm and the macrocosm. The drawing’s heavily worked surface charts the turbulence that occurs as different elements, forces and systems encounter and interact with each other. Her chosen medium is graphite, a naturally occurring form of crystalline carbon. The centrality of carbon emissions to climate change is one important aspect of the turbulence of our time to which McNally gives shifting form on paper.

The title of McNally’s work for Orford Ness is the last line of The River of Rivers in Connecticut by the American poet Wallace Stevens.  Elsewhere in the poem, Stevens writes of the river as ‘an unnamed flowing’, an open space of sensations and associations which McNally’s immense graphite drawing also evokes.


Image: Emma McNally, The river that flows nowhere, like a sea (2021) on Orford Ness, Suffolk. Photograph: Thierry Bal.

Tatiana Trouvé, The Residents

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Tatiana Trouvé, The Residents

Scattered across the interior of Lab 1, a derelict structure built in the 1960s for weapons testing, now open to the elements, overgrown with vegetation and partly underwater, renowned French/Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé will compose a new sculptural installation. Several of the sculptures, cast in aluminium and bronze l, resemble functional objects, including blankets, chairs, books and recording equipment. A large geological form resembling a ‘scholar’s rock’ reflects in a basin of water, suggesting a lost belief system. 

The surfaces of the blankets feature diagrams of geological and scientific systems, drawing connections to Orford Ness’s environment and history. Nettles and grass have grown through and around the blankets. Resembling an encampment or refuge, Trouvé’s installation oscillates between the real, the imaginary and the phantasmic, adding a further layer to the powerful sense of temporal dislocation present on Orford Ness.

Trouvé’s new project for Orford Ness is her first commission in the UK.  A major survey of her work will be presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris in 2022.


Tatiana Trouvé, The Residents, 2021, installation view, Afterness, Orford Ness, United Kingdom. Commissioned and produced by Artangel. Presented by Artangel in partnership with the National Trust. Artwork © Tatiana Trouvé. Photo: Emile Ebrahim Kelly.

Library of Sound

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Library of Sound

The octagonal building known as Black Beacon, originally constructed in 1929 to develop radio navigation systems for aircraft, will become the Library of Sound containing field recordings made on Orford Ness during the past decade by Iain Chambers, Chris Watson and Brian d’Souza.

The viewing apertures on each of Black Beacon’s sides provide a cinematic lookout over the landscape that visitors can contemplate whilst listening to different sound sources captured within it: the rattle of the Control Room door, the sound of a distant explosion, plastic flapping in a strong wind, the drone of a single bee.


Image: Black Beacon at a distance on Orford Ness, April 2021. Photograph: Johny Pitts. 

Brian d'Souza, beacon.black

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Brian d’Souza, beacon.black (2021)

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beacon.black is an acoustic experience designed to transport its audience through the desolate but striking landscape of Orford Ness and its history of listening to and transmitting sound.

Conceived by DJ and sound artist Brian d’Souza, this 24-hour radio station revives Orford Ness’s history of spying and signal jamming as well as capturing its current transmissions from migratory birds and the ever-present wind. An online companion to the Library of Sound installed in the Black Beacon, this site is home to an audio stream of augmented field recordings made on Orford Ness alongside a second stream exploring the island of secret’s history of surveillance and broadcast.

This is part of a series of newly commissioned works for Afterness, inspired by Orford Ness and created to be experienced online.


Image: Screenshot of the website beacon.black.

Paul Maheke, Mauve, Jim and John

28 Minutes 5 Seconds
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Paul Maheke, Mauve, Jim and John (2021)

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Paul Maheke’s starting point for this film was in hauntology, folklore, and the body of myths and legends of Orford Ness, Suffolk. He was drawn to the story of alleged UFO sightings in nearby Rendlesham Forest during December 1980, which at the time was associated with the over-the-horizon radar station Cobra Mist on Orford Ness. 

Experimenting with site-specific choreography, Maheke’s film Mauve, Jim and John creates a visual dialogue between alien intrusion from the sky and the military past of the site. The journey of the spacecraft from Rendlesham Forest to the Ness is re-told through the movement of two male bodies, referencing John Burroughs and Jim Penniston; two servicemen who reported their sighting of a mysterious craft in the sky. Maheke worked closely with dancer and choreographer Robert Bridger to develop a new score, where the sightings in Rendlesham and the unsettling landscape of the Ness form a backdrop to the film's queer romance.

To accompany this work, Maheke has written a text titled The Mauve Hour.

Download the PDF here

Mauve, Jim and John is part of a series of newly commissioned works for Afterness, inspired by Orford Ness and created to be experienced online. 

The film is best experienced with headphones on. 


Video: Paul Maheke, Mauve, Jim and John (2021). This video is also available to watch on Vimeo and YouTube, until 30 October 2021.

Rachel Pimm and Graham Cunnington, an earshare / to cassay the earthcrust

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Rachel Pimm and Graham Cunnington, an earshare / to cassay the earthcrust (2021)

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Each pebble found on the shingle of Orford Ness is matter, something that could absorb and conceal impact, each an untapped archive of the geological past and the Ness’s military histories. With this interpretation, artist Rachel Pimm has created new visual and sound works by taking the environment as a point of departure for further exploration; expanding on found historical traces and referencing the contradictory behaviour of particle physics in the field of quantum mechanics.

As the buildings on the Ness rewild, the nature reserve green-washes the military past. Salty deposits escape concrete surfaces, static buildings cry and sweat. Trauma manifests through rock and concrete. 

To expand on this work, Pimm invited Graham Cunnington, a founding member of the industrial music collective Test Dept, to compose an antimatter soundtrack of granular sounds of the environment, featuring a quantum pebble that is both instrument and transmission, object and a wavelength.

You can explore an earshare / to cassay the earthcrust in its entirety here or when you click through on the link below.


Video: Trailer for Rachel Pimm and Graham Cunnington, an earshare / to cassay the earthcrust (2021). This video is also available to watch on Vimeo.

Talk: Ilya Kaminsky in conversation with Inua Ellams

19:00 BST Monday 4 October 2021
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Ilya Kaminsky in conversation with Inua Ellams

SOON Monday 04 October 2021
Audio, Online, Writing

19:00–20:15 BST (London time)


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A 45-minute discussion followed by a 30-minute audience Q&A live here on YouTube. Viewers are encouraged to share questions on YouTube during the event, or in advance on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #Afterness.

Ukrainian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky discusses the process of writing I See a Silence, a new work commissioned by Artangel and experienced as a recorded soundtrack for a walk through Orford Ness on the Suffolk coast.

His first thematic collection since 2019’s award-winning Deaf Republic, these 49 short poems are inspired by the singular ecology of the Ness and are intercut with a handful of lyrical prose passages. They explore the Ness’s biodiversity of flora and fauna and its role as a testing ground for military defence systems during the last century.

Paradoxically, the global pandemic preempted any possibility of site visits for Kaminsky. The process of writing was therefore inspired by a Ness of his imagination, observed and processed through the mind's eye with the help of photography, archive footage and research data.

In conversation with poet and playwright Inua Ellams, Kaminsky will reflect on his journey to the Suffolk coast without ever leaving Atlanta. Tune in to the live conversation and discover the spirit of place that Kaminsky imagined and how it found form in his poetry.

Location

This conversation will be streamed live on Artangel's YouTube channel

Live closed captions will be provided by StageText. To turn them on, click ‘cc’ on the bottom right corner of the player on YouTube, full instructions here.



Image: The north sea shingle shore on Orford Ness, April 2021. Part of Afterness, Artangel on Orford Ness in partnership with the National Trust. Photograph: Johny Pitts. 

Artists

Iain Chambers, Alice Channer, Graham Cunnington, Brian d’Souza, Axel Kacoutié, Ilya Kaminsky, Paul Maheke, Emma McNally, Rachel Pimm, Tatiana Trouvé, Chris Watson
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Artists

Artists, writers, poets, designers, composers, producers, and performers have created new work for Afterness. Read on to find out more about each contributor.

Iain Chambers

Iain Chambers is a London-based composer, producer and sound artist, whose work explores specific locations and their changing sounds across time, as in Concrete Paris (2021); The Secrets of Orford Ness (2020), The House of Sound (2017), and City of Women (2018). In 2019 Iain launched the independent record label Persistence of Sound, creating a new space for musique concrète, field recordings, and the uncategorizable sounds in between.

In 2015 Iain staged the first ever concerts in Tower Bridge’s Bascule Chambers, transforming the structure into a huge resonant chamber. In 2003 Iain co-founded Langham Research Centre, an electronic music ensemble using Cold War era technology to compose new music. The group also create new realisations of work by composers including John Cage, Alvin Lucier and Christian Wolff, using unusual analogue instrumentation.

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Alice Channer

Alice Channer lives and works on the edges of London. Channer's forms and materials are found in the social and sensual worlds of industrial and organic processes. Over long periods of time, she immerses herself in industrial and natural materials and production processes to find forms within them that can be shown as sculpture.   For her new project for Orford Ness, Channer has found inspiration in its resilient vegetation and in vestiges of its former military life.

Channer has exhibited widely over the last 15 years, and is currently represented by Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin and Düsseldorf.

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Graham Cunnington

Graham Cunnington is a musician with a long-term practice of working with found instrumentation and sounds. As a founding member of the experimental creative collective Test Dept, he has produced sound-works and large-scale film and installation pieces with a focus on political inquiry and location response since the early 80s. Cunnington wrote and performed the autobiographical theatre show ‘Pain’ and has worked on many multi-disciplinary creative collaborations over the years. He has also been involved in union activism and was recently guest co-presenter of the 2021 Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture for Goldsmiths College.

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Brian d’Souza

Brian d’Souza is an award-winning sound artist, DJ, music producer and live performer. His compositions fuse field recording from around the globe with electro-acoustic production techniques to create ‘acoustic ecologies’ that are centred on exploring the psychological and physical benefits of sound. As ‘Auntie Flo’ he's been “taking World Music into the future” (the Guardian) since 2012. He has released three acclaimed albums, with his most recent ‘Radio Highlife’ (Brownswood, 2018) winning the SAY Award. 

D'Souza’s radio station Ambient Flo broadcasts 24 hours a day and features monthly on WorldWide FM. 

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Axel Kacoutié

Axel Kacoutié is a multi-award-winning audio artist, working with sound, music and words to challenge the familiar and revive the magic in the mundane. His work has featured on the BBC, Channel 4, NOWNESS and the Barbican.

He is also the Sound Designer and theme composer for the Guardian's daily news podcast, Today in Focus.

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Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press) and Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press) and co-editor and co-translated many other books, including Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Harper Collins) and Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva (Alice James Books). Deaf Republic was The New York Times’ Notable Book for 2019, and was also named Best Book of 2019 by Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian and New Statesman.

Kaminsky’s poems have been translated into over twenty languages, and his books are published in many countries. In 2019, he was selected by BBC as “one of the 12 artists that changed the world.” He currently holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta, USA. 

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Paul Maheke

Paul Maheke was born in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France and lives and works in London, UK. Since studying at ENSA Paris-Cergy, Paris and Open School East, London, Maheke’s works and performances have been shown at Tate Modern, London (2017), the 57th Venice Biennale (Diaspora Pavilion, 2017), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018), Lafayette Anticipations, Paris (2018), Baltic Triennial, Tallinn (2018), Manifesta, Palermo (2018). In 2018 the Chisenhale Gallery in London hosted a solo exhibition of his work, which later travelled to Vleeshal CCA, Middelburg in January 2019. In 2019 his performances were shown at the 58th Venice Biennale and at ICA Miami in addition to a solo exhibition at Triangle France, Marseille.

Through primarily dance and a collaborative practice comprising performance, installation, sound and video, Maheke considers the potential of the body as an archive in order to examine how memory and identity are formed and constituted.

Paul Maheke was also part of Artangel's programme Thinking Time, 2020. 

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Emma McNally

Emma McNally lives and works in London. Her graphite drawings are a rhythmic exploration of entanglement and turbulence across scales, times and spaces. Multitudes of different marks conjure up dynamic weather systems and matter moving through different states:  cycles of water, particles of carbon, radioactive fallout.  They suggest an attempt to chart shifting systems of immense complexity, drawing on soundings, data visualisations, electronic microscopes, particle collision chambers and satellite imaging. 

McNally has worked for many years in studios by the River Thames – her drawing echoing the pulsing activity of the city and reflecting the river's ebb and flow. The first six of an ongoing series of large-scale drawings, Choral Fields, were shown in Mirrorcity at the Hayward Gallery in 2016 and another large group on Cockatoo island in the Sydney Biennale in 2018.

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Rachel Pimm

Rachel Pimm was born in Harare, 1984 and lives Northamptonshire, UK. They work across sculpture, text, photography, video and performance to explore environments and their materialities, biochemistries, histories and politics, with an interest in queer, feminist and post-colonial materialisms, natural histories and resource extraction, in addition to the potential of surfaces and matter to transform. 

Pimm’s work has been featured in programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Jerwood Space, Chisenhale Gallery and The Royal Academy – all in London between 2014-20 – as well as internationally across Europe and the USA. Residencies include Loughborough University Chemical Engineering, Gurdon institute of Genetics at Cambridge University, Rabbit Island, Michigan, USA and was Whitechapel Gallery Writer in Residence 2019/20. They are currently lecturing at UAL and have a forthcoming commission with Arts Catalyst in 2021/22.

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Tatiana Trouvé

Tatiana Trouvé was born in Calabria, Italy and grew up in Dakar, Senegal. Following her artistic studies at the Villa Arson in Nice and in the Netherlands, she moved to Paris in 1995 where she continues to live and work. Her aims are to create a place where the coordinates of space and time, the arrangement of the material, the physical and the psychic, organize convergences between the real, the imaginary and the phantasmic.

Known for her “Bureau d'Activités Implicites” (Bureau of Implicit Activities) and for several site-specific projects in Europe and the US, Trouvé’s sculptures and installations blur the boundaries between the domestic and the natural, the mineral and the living, the two dimensions of drawing and the three dimensions of volume. The rules and laws that determine our reality are recomposed in worlds where new coexistences are formulated. Trouvé was awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize in France in 2007, followed by a solo presentation at the centre Georges Pompidou, and has exhibited her work in numerous museums around the world over the past two decades.

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Chris Watson

Chris Watson was a founding member of the Sheffield based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals and habitats around the world. As a composer and sound recordist Watson specialises in creating spatial sound installations which feature a strong sense and spirit of place.

His television work includes many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996, and as the location sound recordist for the BBC series ‘Frozen Planet’ which also won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012).

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Image (left): The north sea in the distance on Orford Ness, April 2021. Photograph: Johny Pitts. 

Images of the artist (above), from top to bottom, Alice Channer by Thierry Bal, Brian d’Souza by Dan Spinney, Axel Kacoutié by Francis Augusto, Paul Maheke by Tina Rowe, Emma McNally by Victoria McNally, Tatiana Trouvé by Claire Dorn, Chris Watson by Bill Oddie. 

Download: Your digital guide

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Your digital guide

Enhance your visit to Afterness when you download and use our free interactive mobile guide, now live on the Bloomberg Connects app.

Our digital guide has been designed for you to connect with and explore Artangel directly through your smartphone or smart device. Live and bespoke features including our interactive map and in-depth commentary on each of the artworks and installations now allow you to satisfy your curiosity and guide your live experience ahead of, during, or after your visit. 

Download the Bloomberg Connects app today to:

  • Enjoy new Artangel exhibitions by using the app as your live guide. Simply look out for numbers on the A3 signs near the artworks to learn more about them.
  • Use the personalised interactive map to guide you around each extraordinary location.
  • Discover ongoing projects, highlights, and audio walks, located around the world, with tips on where and how to experience them.
  • Explore historical projects with access to additional app-purposed content, including audio and video, plus new interpretations that trace the projects’ legacies and themes.

The Bloomberg Connects digital guide is part of a wider digital engagement programme at Artangel, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, to enhance digital access for all of our live projects – designed to guide you through each unique space with maps, easy to read interpretive text, and exclusive content. Your live companion can be used offsite or onsite as a hands-free audio or visual guide.


You can download the app for free via the Google Play store or the App store.

Press

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The past is everywhere apparent on Orford Ness. – Laura Cumming, The Observer

Selected Press

Walking on shingle from Bomb Ballistics to the shore, it is clear that it once was a place, but it is as if the spit has been deprived of both its place-ness and its time-ness. Afterness perhaps asks, ‘what happens after -ness?’ – Cian Kinsella, Metal Magazine 

Inspired by the peculiar atmosphere of the Ness, five installations in sound, sculpture and drawing occupy the abandoned buildings that punctuate this desolate landscape. – Florence Hallett, i News, 5 July 2021

The most successful installation and complement to the eerie environment is Tatiana Trouvé’s The Residents. Trouvé has filled leaky Lab 1 with discarded belongings: books, shoes, and suitcases. As I wonder whose she imagines them to have been and what they’ve fled, I realise that the books are not made of paper, but marble; the shoes and suitcases are bronze. – Kate Maxwell, Financial Times, 29 June 2021

Everything irresistibly proposes a question on this island. Why are the poppies yellow and cerise, like a colour-blindness test? Why are there miniature deer in a reserve without any trees? Why are the hares so huge and what do they live on? What did the scientists really discover in these crumbling structures, and who designed them? The answer to everything might almost be summarised in the title of the outstanding work in Afterness – I See a Silence. – Laura Cumming, The Observer, 27 June 2021

It’s the last place I’d expect to find an art installation, there are no white-walled gallery spaces here. – Tabish Khan, FAD magazine, 26 June 2021 

It’s hard for art to make its presence felt in a place like Orford Ness and sensibly, Artangel have chosen a light touch, installing works to complement, rather than compete with, the atmospheric surroundings. A wise decision, because the magic of the Ness, with its many secrets, makes it a compelling place to visit, whatever the weather and with or without the art. – Louisa Buck, The Art Newspaper, 25 June 2021

The building's roof has since fallen in, and its interior is partly underwater, but Trouve restores objects such as blankets, chairs, books, and recording equipment to the space rendered in more resilient materials—aluminium and bronze. – Sam Gaskin, Ocula Magazine, 25 June 2021

In this desolate landscape, the cries of the gulls, a rusted up radiator, the dusty old cobwebds that sway in the wind become utterly mesmerising. – Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times, 22 June 2021

A collection of poems will drift across the windswept landscape that inspired them. – Miranda Collinge, Esquire, 17 May 2021

Survey

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Survey

At Artangel, we are keen to find out what our audiences think of our work and in turn learn what we can do to adapt the experience, format and subject matter of future projects – ensuring our continued relevancy for the communities we serve. Your honest feedback is invaluable to us as an organisation.

This short survey should take you just over 5 minutes to complete.

To thank you for your time, you will see a prompt at the end of the survey where you can select to be entered into a prize draw for a £50 M&S voucher. The winner will be selected on 8 November 2021.

Take the survey


Image: Orford Ness, April 2021. Photograph: Johny Pitts.

Credits

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Who made this possible?

Credits

Afterness is commissioned and produced by Artangel.

Presented in partnership with the National Trust.  

Supported by Artangel’s Guardian Angels.

Tatiana Trouvé’s work is commissioned with the support of Jill and Peter Kraus and Fluxus Art Projects.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, and The Company of Angels.


 

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