Today is spent with musician Paul Morgan, who has come over from the UK with a spectacular modular synth, with which he is able to create an improvised soundscape to manipulate and accompany my drawing performance. During the day we discuss the parameters of the performance, which starts at 7:30pm sharp, as the bells ring. As agreed, we perform for one hour in order to enter a meditative zone. I wear a blindfold to help focus on the soundscape and movements and I work on paintings which are on the pavement and also hung along the wall opposite the gallery, where Paul is set up on a table with his equipment. It’s a durational performance, which means that we do not expect the audience to maintain their full attention for the entire time. Some people have arrived who have seen our publicity and others, passing by, stop to watch. More people than I expect to watch for the entire hour and the shape of Morgan’s piece ebbs and flows with the drama of extended periods of tension followed by moments of resolution.
The rest of the evening is spent drinking and dancing at a friend’s apartment until 4 am at which time I take the short walk, alone to my own apartment. When I step out into the Venetian night I find myself among a procession of men wearing capes and chanting. I duck into a side alley a little startled and consider the strangeness of the situation as I listening to their whispering chants and urgent footsteps. I take some photos and walk briskly in the wrong direction. Realising I need to turn back as there is no other way home I listen to the procession begin to fade into the distance and I hear them embarking onto boats. I wonder whether they might be shooting a film – or perhaps it’s a secret society performing a ritual or ceremony. Between the hours of 4-5am is perfectly quiet in Venice and the history and energy feel intense and mesmerising. I wait for the boats to set off before continuing along my way. I take a video of the boats disappearing along the canal and continue to film the rest of my walk into the magnificence of an eerily deserted San Marco and when I reach home I realise the photographs didn’t capture any of the caped men but I can – just about – make out the lights of the boats in my shaky footage.
Photos: Mark Edward