Tina Rowe

Mark Making in Public Places

Children's Play Ground

This is an ongoing and personal project about presence and the insistence of being seen.

I find it very hard to get my head around the fact that even sitting down, blood is moving through my body at about 6kmph. It’s almost impossible to imagine this constant state of flux, things happening, regenerating, dying, within the container of my skin while all around me this an so much more is happening in everybody’s life.

I often think about Auden’s ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’*, his meditation on the Breughel painting of Icarus being swallowed by the sea having fallen from close enough to the sun to destroy his wings. Now all that remains of this powerfully ambitious boy is a leg that pokes out like the punchline of a silly joke, unnoticed by all the activity and life around him.

The works I make are about indifference to the spectacular things that are going on around and even within us.

They must take place in a public space when other people are around. Making the image has to make me visible and in some way acting in relation to the camera. The exposures must be longer than 5 minutes.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus © Bridgeman Art Library / Royal Musuems of Fine Arts of Belgium
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus © Bridgeman Art Library / Royal Musuems of Fine Arts of Belgium

*Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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