STRUAN KENNEDY

PROPOSAL

The main branch of research that I would like to investigate would be the ‘Cleaven Dyke’, which is a site of intense, archaeological significance. In my work I often look right back through human history and the primitive has always fascinated me. Far from being some humble scratching in a dank cave this ‘cursus’ is one of the most monumental relics of the Neolithic Age recorded and written into our landscape. 3 key elements make the Cleaven Dyke worth exploring; it’s age, it’s scale and it’s purpose, which is as yet unknown. The most popular theory is that it would have served as ceremonial procession so I would mimic this procession during filming-slowly, steadily walking up the middle of it. Other writing that suggests the dyke could be seen as a ‘symbolic river’ fascinates me. The question of faith and effort is also worth considering as it’s believe the incredible task of sculpting so much earth would have been continued by succeeding generations. I see it as a kind of prehistoric version of Francis Alÿs piece ‘When Faith Moves Mountains’.

If time permitted it I’d also make some films/field recordings in Blairgowrie itself. The majority of my films are silent but I’m experimenting with different sounds. I feel a short stay at BCCA could really enhance my practice and perspective and I’d be delighted to contribute to your programme.

Struan Kennedy was first due at the bcca back in May, 2015. He had to postpone then, due to work commitments, but we've kept in touch since and here he is at the start of November, 2015, during a reading week in the first term of his MRes at Glasgow School of Art.

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Due to my own work commitments this isn't being written up until January, 2016. So for the text and images I'm mostly going to be relying on what Struan has sent through in the meantime.

Basically, on day one I drove Struan to the Cleaven Dyke where he did some filming. And on day two he took some still photographs while on a walk in Blairgowrie. Let's start with Struan's selection of those photographs:

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Struan Kennedy:
'Way Out Only' similar to the blind window coming up, this work offers a false escape, within the safe, recognisable domestic outline. There's a dark denial at play, a surreal twist to an otherwise ordinary scene.

Duncan McLaren: That's taken on Reform Street, where the bcca is located. The next three photographs are taken in a distant corner of town which you reach by heading for the green light (bottom left of photo), turning right along the High Street, then turning left up Upper Allan Street, which takes you to the top of a hill on the outskirts of Blairgowrie.

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SK:
'Kirk Wynd'

DMcL: That's the name of a street, not a car number plate. And it's in the kirkyard on that street that the next two shots are taken.

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SK: Warped fence - not the final title! Not sure on naming a few works yet. A worn down fence at the front of the kirk. I did film the swooping, sweeping, rising, falling 'journey' along the top of the fence but it needs re-sequenced. I'll also probably set this piece to 'music', more like high frequency, oscillating sounds. N.B this is only one section of the whole fence.

DMcL: Struan is the second of our residents to venture into Blairgowrie this autumn. Neither of them have engaged with the town's inhabitants, but no doubt that will come in time. I think it's sensible to be cagey about things at this stage. Besides, the buildings and the detritus of the town amount to rich raw material.

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SK: 'Stained' window at rear of high ground kirk. Among a storm of imagery that comes to mind is Michelangelo's 'blind windows'. Not so much an aesthetic relationship, but a conceptual similarity in that contradiction - a window, a means of accessing and understanding the world being blind. In the kirk's case, the smooth, almost eerie finish of the black wood.

DMcL: I will just mention that for a disused church one need look no further than the building right next door to the bcca. Yes, we in Blairgowrie are proud of our collection of derelict churches, each of which is slowly evolving/mutating into... what?

SK: Below is a clip from
Cleaven. Still in a very rough form. The state of the filming more broadly reflects my feelings when travelling up to Blair. The unusually widespread and thick blanket of fog that descended over much of the U.K was a really strong, defining environmental feature that I had to work with. I had very mixed feelings about it. On one hand, concern that, as a visual artist, this could prove a logistical challenge; on the other, a sense that it might add a very particular essence to the work produced.

The phrase that Goya used, 'the magic of atmospheres', has stayed with me for a while and standing engulfed in the misty midst of the Cleaven was where I felt its presence greatly.

Since the purpose of the Cleaven is so unknown, it seemed appropriate that shooting occurred in a veil of mystery, visual obscurity. This is best represented in the two 'ends' which seem to go on forever into the distance, mimicking our rational obscurity around the function of this incredible site.

I wanted the filming to capture the profound essence of the space. Rather than being a documentary about the Cleaven, it's a film of the Cleaven.

Cleaven

DMcL: The film is 2mins and 24 seconds long. But if you watch it five times on the spin, that's 12 minutes of your life spent with our distant ancestors, makers of the mysterious Cleaven Dyke at Meiklour.