When I joined the University of Bath as an undergraduate in 2007, the demands for a new arts centre had already been bubbling away for some time. Over my four years there, reporting on the arts for the student radio station, and later attending regular student representative meetings, the fabled arts centre - supposedly 'in progress' - began to feel increasingly utopic. So it was with delight that on my most recent visit to Bath this Tuesday I visited The Edge, which houses not only a theatre and rehearsal space, but arts studios, music practice rooms and a dance studio. The most pleasant surprise for me, though, were the three galleries run by the ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts), ensuring that free contemporary art would be a permanent feature of the new student experience.
Passage - Miranda Whall
A perfect fit for the inaugural exhibition at the ICIA, interdisciplinary artist Miranda Whall has created a multi-screen and surround-sound installation, charting her physical passage through Europe, Mexico and Thailand and the simultaneous artistic passage through her recent projects developed in each place. A Turkish dancer twirls from screen to screen, later a solitary goldfish swims the same path. Vibrant flashes of fruit flying through the jungle and smashing against a tree juxtapose the stillness of an old woman at rest. Singing in French and Spanish, bird calls, music, and muddled underwater whispers combine with the images to create an immersive and hypnotic experience.
Equally interdisciplinary artist Simon Faithfull brings together a video, a slide show, a globe, and a range of postcards reproducing line drawings and diary extracts, to represent his 'obsessive and deranged journey exactly along the Greenwich Meridian'. Part I charted his journey through England, while in this second part, we travel from the top of France to the bottom of Africa. The slide show is particularly striking: rapidly progressing from verdant French countryside to barren Burkina Faso, with the coordinates at which each photograph was taken in the bottom left corner, it forces the viewer to confront the common usage of 'West'. The written extracts, meanwhile, predominantly from the African leg of the journey, give fascinating glimpses of a part of the world rarely present in travel literature.