HEART OF HAWICK
FRIDAY 28 APRIL
14:30 – 16:30 / 90′
Content warning: contains flashing imagery; discussion of colonialism, death.
by Dr Jessica Gordon-Burroughs
This programme of films, letters, readings and performance centres on the continuities and discontinuities between Scotland and Puerto Rico, as a conversation between the Global South and North, but also as shared colonial spaces. The programme features a little-known correspondence between Puerto Rican and Scottish calligraphers Lorenzo Homar and Stuart Barrie as a springboard to consider broader dynamics and points of tension between the two spaces. Excerpts from this correspondence, creatively and speculatively rendered, are read by Puerto Rican artist filmmaker Sofía Gallisá Muriente, whose Assimilate and Destroy I also opens and closes the programme.
Wind and water, a nautical reference, points toward a sense of vulnerability, but also toward the process of writing and corresponding across the ocean. The concept of letters and the ‘calligraphic’ gestures toward broad figurations of writing: writing in the natural world; writing with the voice; writing with the body; as ways of imprinting and inflecting time and the self upon seemingly anonymous and monolithic structures and social configurations. In the companion zine Grief into Action, honey, bees and sisterhood are paired with the healing properties of salt – which, in Assimilate and Destroy I, is both absorbed by and erodes the filmic surface.
At the programme’s centre is the video and archival work a crossing (1698/2003) by Glasgow-based Puerto Rican artist Emilia Beatriz with Kiera Coward-Deyell and Andrés Nieves, who will also perform the work after it screens. In that performance, the human voice activates alternative narratives pushing up against layered histories of colonial aspirations and military occupation on Vieques, an island east of the Puerto Rican mainland. Herein the mythic overlaps with Vieques’s dense historical emplotment. Contrasting an almost despairing militarism with the resistant politics of care, a crossing (1698/2003) invests bees, crabs, and the human form with an unexpected potentiality for collective action, rebellion, and sedition. Cape Wrath in Scotland’s North serves as a troubling counterpoint, a parallel militarised territory, both colonised and colonising.
Research for this programme was supported by funding from a Carnegie Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust. The excerpted letters are courtesy of the Centro de Documentación de Arte Puertorriqueño del Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte (Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Río Piedras). Many thanks to Susan Homar, Araceli Ortiz-Azancot, and Flavia Marichal.
ASSIMILATE AND DESTOY I
Sofía Gallisá Muriente
2’31 – Puerto Rico – 2018
A CROSSING (1698/2003)
10’04 – Scotland, Puerto Rico – 2022