Above: Still from Sediments – Barrow Islands, Clara Casian, 2019
Clara M. Casian, Extreme Views Digital Artist-in-Residence 2018 – 2019
Clara M. Casian is a Romanian visual artist, based in Manchester, with an interest in archives and reconstructing histories. Her practice encompasses film, drawing and collaboration, working with a variety of media including performance, moving image, sound and light. Her project on alternative publishing and censorship via the history of Savoy Books was developed as part of Feature Expanded. Casian’s recent projects include the live performance film Birdsong – Stories from Pripyat with composer Robin Richards (Dutch Uncles), House on the Borderland, shown as part of LA MOVIDA 14th Apr – 17 Jul 2017, HOME Manchester and Intentional Communities, in collaboration with visual artist Nick Jordan. Clara joins Art Gene as Extreme Views Digital Artist in Residence, 2018 – 2019.
I am fascinated to be a part of Extreme Views Team, to research the history of Barrow, and to create a series of filmic responses about natural and man-made sites. I am particularly interested to bring out the natural richness of Barrow and to explore how these two worlds collide. I will be looking to observe this tension between the present and the past and scenes of derelict areas of war bunkers, skeleton boat wrecks, slag banks mixed with coastal landscapes through the stories collected from the community. My residency in this project, the access to the rich resources, the immersion into the history of the Barrow area, will help further my interests in archives, memory, filtered through personal and poetic lens.
Extreme Views Digital Artist-in-Residence 2018-19
Above: Sediments excerpt / Iron Ore, Clara Casian, 2019.
Single channle video work, 25 minutes.
As a result of her residency, Clara created Sediments – Barrow Islands, presented at Extreme Views Exhibition in 2019. This single channel video explores the history of Barrow in Furness and the tensions between natural and man-made environment, strange earth’s metamorphosis caused by traces of ecological processes and environmental cleanup: Roosecote Power Station near Cavendish Dock, British Cellophane Factory in Sandscale Haws, and Askam slag bank. The film’s narrative arc follows first-hand experiences, personal records and testimonies interwoven with observations of strange sediments and biological traces in connection with the natural transformations in Barrow Islands due to industrialisation.
The archival material is layered with the contemporary footage of the area, juxtaposed and intertwined in a loose ‘assemblage’. The archival image is stripped from its original sound source to remove any traces of historicity. The sound of field recording simulates a drone humming noise, evoking an eerie feeling and pressurised industrial soundscape.
The film references research from Piel Fisheries Laboratory, Cumbria Archives and uses archival footage, courtesy of North West Film Archive, presenting research findings and biological investigations conducted in the 1960’s at the Roosecote Power Station. The material was identified through a series of trips which prepared the ground for an investigative filmmaking practice with fieldwork and cooperation with local residents holding the living memory of the place.
About the collaborators:
The film features collaborations with specialists from various fields of art and science, as well as local voices with lived experience of the place. ‘Palimpsest’ is a poignant poem inspired by Barrow Islands, written in English by the Romanian poet Maria M Casian, also writer of essays, historical literature and specialist in cultural heritage. Biologist and local resident Pete Burton, former National Trust site manager, has long studied new forms of life and transformations in the natural environment after industrialisation and gentrification.
Below: Still from Sediments – Barrow Islands, Clara Casian, 2019