selina bonelli is a performance artist based the UK. Through performance, bonelli explores the relationships that different types of memory have to gestures, images and materials. She is interested in how our bodies make sense of things that are unspeakable, uncommunicable, and how this affects us both personally and societally. bonelli’s work looks at the effects of the deterritorialization of materials and actions in order to approach a language beyond the inadequacies it presents us with.
bonelli’s recent extended project, entitled (re)collecting (f)ears, took place across the summer of 2019, and involved a number of site-specific performance actions aimed at activating a series of abandoned or fallen Sound Mirrors along the south coast. The Sound Mirrors were developed in the 1930s as an early warning system for aircraft attacks, but research and production were ultimately abandoned in favour of radar. These sonic remains are physical manifestations of pre-war tensions and fears – initially built to provide defence, they now succumb to elemental erosive forces along the coasts of England. As relics of an early warning system that never came to fruition, their failure to serve their intended function could be seen to occupy the space of a fossilised mourning for a future that never came.
“I was wondering if we all started listening to each other, could we find commonality rather than division? Could we try to overcome our divisions and ideological rhetorics through our shared humanity?”
Where bonelli’s work is typically driven by personal histories and memories which are paradoxically articulated and obscured during performance, (re)collecting (f)ears was more explicit intervention in the political climate in the UK. Noting the instrumentalization of fear in political and cultural discourse, bonelli intended to correlate the intended (and failed) function of the mirrors – to listen – to the rhetoric of the political right, who claim they are not being listened to, or otherwise left behind. In attempting ‘to listen’ through performance, bonelli sought to interrogate notions of social responsibility, to take claim, or otherwise face up to, responsibility, rather than offloading responsibility onto the Other – the migrant, the refugee, the working class. In this way, the work refutes the ‘take back control’ narrative, proposing ‘take back responsibility’ as a more just alternative.
“How do we go about social repair? I felt the idea of listening might be an initial step. Through conversation I tried to understand how easily we can be swayed, and how we need to take on the responsibility of social repair.”
(re)collecting (f)ears was documented by writers, photographers and a film-maker. The project has been supported by ]performance s p a c e[, who will publish the documentation and reflections in a book, launching with an performance and exhibition at ]ps[ on Thursday 21 November. A further performance and exhibition will follow at Well Projects in Margate between Thursday 28 November and Saturday 8 December.
selina bonelli will also present work – (un)certain twitches at Fierce Festival, Birmingham in collaboration with Vivid Projects, on Saturday 19 October. This work is a more personal action that nevertheless interrogates similar notions of control, fear and associated suffering.
Categories: Featured Artist
Date Posted: 17 October 2019