Mark Dixon artist

Breaking Up

Breaking Up is an installation which documents the demolition of Cranfield’s Mill, where now stands the tallest building in East Anglia and the home of the New Jerwood Dance House on the Ipswich Waterfront.

A short clip from – Breaking Up . . . .

A 55 minute film, consisting of 12 short movies of 30 seconds to 5 minutes duration

Breaking Up is an installation which documents the demolition of Cranfield’s Mill, where now stands the tallest building in East Anglia and the home of the New Jerwood Dance House on the Ipswich Waterfront.

BBC website feature

Cranfield’s Mill, which stood opposite St Mary at the Quay Church, was part of the group of nineteenth and twentieth century buildings where many local families were employed. Four years ago Mark became interested in the ideas around demolition and regeneration as he watched the disappearance of these buildings from his kitchen window. It sparked the desire to make some kind of record of the demolition and of the memories of workers whose history was vanishing.

Mark decided to try and record the building’s interior as it was taken away and changed. He persuaded Waldringfield-based CDC Demolition Ltd to let him work as an artist in residence, during several months of demolition work in 2005.

He installed video cameras and sound recording equipment both inside and outside the demolition areas and through the process captured some extraordinary imagery. Footage was collected both wirelessly and via cable and cameras placed inside the buildings continued relaying images and sound until they were destroyed or their batteries failed. He also sought out former workers at Cranfields and taped their memories and stories of work in the buildings.

The installation consists of the shorts that are painterly and abstract in their form, they are viewed from below and above our eye level, we look down and up into spaces; the shots reveal uncertain views and imagery, some vibrate and others are brutal in their movement. The sounds of the people telling their experiences of employment at the Mill add time depth in between the noises of destruction. The resulting work is both raw and reflective, it is not a documentary or a story, yet it portrays in pictorial form the passage of history, the erasing of memories and of a place, a passing of time and record of an event that will change our sense of a place.

This event at St Mary Quay was organised in collaboration with Mark Dixon and The Town Hall Galleries, Ipswich to coincide with the opening of the Jerwood Dance House.

A version of the work has been shown at Focal Point Gallery, Southend that was supported by Arts Council England, East.

“ART REVIEW”  : Peterborough Museum – By Rachel Lovesey

Photography depicting empty space encased by concrete and partitioned by metal and glass is projected onto the gallery walls.

The interior images of an abandoned building hover close to the plaster board, accentuating the claustrophobic atmosphere of the rooms they depict. Flattened into a still, the building hangs in space like the deflated rubber of a balloon. Mark Dixon’s work documents the methodical destruction of a building on Ipswich’s docks, recording the space from the inside as teams of workmen and machinery extinguish it.

Four burnt and broken video cameras, salvaged from the wreckage of the building, are placed on individual plinths at the entrance of the exhibition. Further on, images saved on these cameras form an installation of four slightly different views on a single room collapsing, projected onto the four walls of the gallery. Captured on video, specks of dust propelled by currents of air from another time and another city float against and through a gallery wall until gathering into a giant cloud that chokes one camera lens while blowing delicately into another’s periphery vision. Wires hang inertly on one wall while a violent energy pulses through their base, whipping them across another. Dixon envelopes us in this self-contained world, conveying a fascination with the textures of a building as it reverts to material, then to rubble, then to dust.

The narrative impulse of film making, where everything on screen is deliberately placed as clues to a story’s conclusion, is negated. The dramatic outcome of the films are known, removing a narrative purpose to the components within them, yet the images remain utterly compelling. Elements appear at random as a last gasp, visible only to disintegrate and disappear. When the metal fist of a digger finally prises open the room’s ceiling, daylight dissolves the ghostly shadows of both the filmed room and the gallery. We are snapped back from illusory to real time and space, into a room whose concrete stability begins to quiver at the edges like an echo reverberating through empty space.

A camera follows the violent precision of a drill piercing through metal; sparks sneeze as a result of simultaneous resistance and force while deep black smoke speeds behind it, smothering the severed line in velvety shadow. All states of being eventually give way to another, whether by intention or neglect. Dixon presents a world whose every particle is in flux and where permanence is a deception. While not entirely without sentimentality, this exhibition rejects nostalgic memorialising of a building and of the past. Instead, the work shown seems to revel in the process of change and the potential of the future.



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