Tom Dale, A Cage for Voices
The Red Zone. What happens when a city dissolves into thin air?
Monument to the Present
Andrew Paul Wood
London-based British artist Tom Dale is no stranger to the SCAPE festival of art in public spaces. In 2017 he brought Terminal Blue to the big Canterbury sky, an aeroplane flying a swatch of blue paint samples as a banner behind it in an effort to get us to look up. Returning for the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence, this time around Dale contributed two video works which screened in the CoCA forecourt and can still be viewed online, and a sculpture.
The first of these video works was A Cage for Voices, [ see link to youtube for this and Dale’s The Red Zone as detailed in the images list below], commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4 and filmed in the azure waters off the Turkish city of Izmir, the departure point for Syrian refugees trying to enter the EU via Greece. For all this intense and often tragic background, there is a surreal and strangely “Lynchian” quality to it. Filmed underwater, a random assortment of household objects – an iron, an electric fan, a bird cage, a chair – falls into the water and sinks (or sometimes float) as a metaphorical act of disjuncture and erasure.
SCAPE commissioned a new work as a sequel to this. Made in 2017, The Red Zone inverts the view – filmed from what appears to be a drone, looking down at the desolate landscape of the Burwood part of the residential Red Zone. This is less David Lynch than J. G. Ballard, following the contours of houseless streets, with a single climax of apocalyptic cataclysm enacted with a dozen or so well-placed smoke bombs - this ties in with the sculpture, Monument to the Present, another new commission for Christchurch: luridly orange, interlocking silhouettes of accusatory fingers pointing in all directions like a blossoming explosion, symbolic of Ōtautahi’s contested and fraught post-quake urban fabric.
A Cage for Voices https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mf8H2pgjQc
The Red Zone. What Happens when a city dissolves into thin air? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0qMeCVQIDA
Tom Dale The Red Zone 2018. Presented for the SCAPE Season 2018. Image courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by Channel 4, UK.
Tom Dale, Monument to the Present, 2018, corner Durham Street North and Chester Street West, Presented for the SCAPE Season 2018. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Heather Milne.