Several months ago Joana Cifre Cerdà and I started a loose collaboration initially triggered by a then for me topical book: The Day of the Triffids. I made a moving piece about this, got it out of my system so to speak, and our meandering conversation gradually drifted to how the politics of fear and social distancing has affected our behaviour and interactions. We worked slowly, communicated via Zoom to share our experiments. The outcome of this process is now on show as part of BEEF’s (Bristol Experimental Exanding Film group) Department of Moving Images exhibition in the large Centre of Gravity show at at the old Soapworks/Gardiner Haskins in Bristol.

Below is a short text that describes the piece. If you happen to be in Bristol come and have a look. The show is open Wednesday to Sunday. The old Soap Works is a large and airy building complex near Temple Meads railway station.

Preparations by Joana Cifre Cerda and Claudia Pilsl

In this moving piece we explore possible reactions to an unforeseeable event and deal with the persistent numbing anxiety of something that resides outside of our control. The kitchen as a safe zone and locus of comfort is the stage where we engage with our own unique responses and copying mechanisms. Joana vents her fears in a frenzy of cutting and wraps, like a spider, perishables in fine string to store for later consumption whereas Claudia engages with the some of the objects that live in her small kitchen in  Vienna. These cooking paraphernalia, with their concrete physical presence  and humble functionality affirm that there is still an everyday albeit filled with uncertainty and anxiety. They suggest a continuity from past to present moment with an implied promise of a future where food will be prepared and eaten.

The Return of the Triffids

It has become reality, finally. The Day of the Triffids, this story of a dystopian world where the ones who survived the carnage of the war are then attacked and killed by plants. As a threat, this could barely be worse because the majority of the people had gone blind after watching a meteor shower that was meant to be a harmless entertainment during post-war reconstruction. Surrounded by permanent darkness, they could not see what comes at them, the viciously snarling tongues, the thick clouds of green dust that these invaders use to slay their prey. The Triffids of 2020 stay also invisible whilst trying to satisfy their craving for human flesh. Even though we have not lost our eyesight, we are unable to see when they attack us with their sneeze of particles nor do we feel the sting of their first contact. Yet these invaders from outer space are not quite like the ones described by Wyndham in 1951. They have evolved. Before they start to devour us by eating our lungs whilst we are still alive, they use our bodies as hosts and to travel around expanding their population with each encounter. The Triffids of 2020 love globe trotters, jetsetters, commuters, and everyone in between. All of us are fertile ground, without us they cannot live, with them we may die. To do what we love, what defines us as individuals has become suspicious and potentially dangerous not only to one but all the ones with whom we share the air. Hundred days in, we have learned to distance ourselves and keep safe. We vigorously wash hands as if we were Pilatus and the sins of selfishness and human greed could be revoked. Masks to cover our breaths have become the norm, a stroll in the neighbourhood is now a highlight of the day. Many have developed a craving for a change of scenery, to leave where they live behind even if it were for a few hours. The only safe way is to use virtual simulation as within the digital realm air cannot yet travel. This is hard and even the socially introverted crave the company of others. Sometimes we gently touch the screen, share some words and the air with our neighbours across the road to briefly forget and feel alive. Only few can see the triffids within their hosts, they wear special glasses or have learnt to squint, like artists, at an early age. There are also the brave ones that risk their lives caring for the injured or working on new ways to kill the Triffids as the salt water cure does not work anymore. The rest have to hope, are reduced to waiting, whilst seeing the world as they know it crumbling. They dream and travel in their minds, they can make plans for a reconstruction, work hard at staying human and kind. The Triffids have returned but so has spring and so will summer.


Resident: Exhibition Info

 Below is the the main info on Resident. Please share! 

Claudia Pilsl:  Resident

Exhibition  28th January – 4th February 2020


Exhibition Opening: Tuesday 28th January 2020, 5 to 8pm


Beginning of 2018 Claudia Pilsl undertook a 3 months residency at x-church in Gainsborough. Her proposition to the community was to explore the question What does it mean to be a resident?. For this she spent time with everybody who was willing to let her join in and become, if only temporary, part of their lives. The wish to understand better what it means to be a UK resident stems from her increasing anxiety about the status of EU citizens post Brexit. Having lived longer in England than in Austria, the country of her birth, the place she identifies with most is not a particular country but Europe as a whole. For her as a migrant and future EU guest-worker it is therefore not easy to define what means to be a resident within the borders of a nation state.

The main piece in the exhibition is a video (1h 44min) in which the artist merges footage from a long drive in a white van around Gainsborough and an audio track edited from over 15 hours of recorded interviews during her residency. These conversations center on what it means to be a resident, how it is to live in his area, what the future could hold for this small market town. The two exhibited series of photographs were generated during a walk with Clive Maclennan, a resident of the south West Ward in Gainsborough, and during various sessions at x-church. As part of the exhibition, the artist also hosts the pop-up gallery Chateau Marcus, a temporary show space in an old shed. This shed initially intended as a studio during her sta soon became a show space for local artists. As an exhibition space within the exhibition Chateau Marcus will show a series of works by Joana Cifre Cerdà, Clive Maclennan, Kev Snell, Knaithan Parks. Also on display will the collaborative project facilitated by Michael Bowdidge: Slumgothic Live Collage and a slideshow of the arts activities at x-church from 2006 till today.

Bio: Claudia Pilsl is a photographer and media artist based in Bristol and Vienna. She creates installations and projection works and engages diverse audiences in and beyond the gallery space. Her work is included in major collections such as the Museum of modern Art Vienna, Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover, the DG Bank Collection, the Art Collection of Upper Austria, SK Stiftung Cologne, and the Photo Collection Austria. She won two major fellowships (Arts Council Austria, City of Bremen), the Prize for Visual Art of Upper Austria, and a Research Fellowship at Southampton Institute. She has just submitted her doctoral practice research on ‘Photography and its Contribution to the Understanding of Digital Porosity’ at the University of Plymouth (Funding by The 3D3 Center for Doctoral Training Programme). Prior to starting her doctoral inquiry, she undertook an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London (2013) and an MA in Combined Media at University of Applied Arts in Vienna (1994).

Contact: Claudia Pilsl, mobile: 07563698599  email:

websites: Blog:

Resident will be shown at Project Space Plus in Lincoln!

IMG_9746Beginning of 2018 I undertook  three  months residency at x-church in Gainsborough and explored with the local community what it means to be a resident. Gainsborough is a 20 min train ride from Lincoln and this gives everybody involved a chance to come to the show and see what I have made. Middle of November I went with Kev Snell, a local artist from Gainsborough, to have a look at Project Space Plus in Lincoln. And it is great! A beautifully structured space that will fit perfectly to show my work and to host Chateau Marcus. Yes, the pop-up gallery is on the move and I am really exited about  being able to curate a exhibition within the exhibition. But more on this soon!


Thinking in and beyond with a bilingual brain

IMG_9229.JPGIn October I handed in my doctoral thesis which was simply put a relieve.  Even though I have lived a long time in the UK, at times I still struggle  to find the exact words for what I want to say. This is because often my thinking takes place in a space between my two languages, German and English. Both have a specific grammatical structure and offer words that do not exist in the other. At most times I relish this as it allows my thoughts to move beyond their lingual borders. A slice of EU in the brain. It opens up a possibility to meander outside  the confinement of the individual cultural context, allows for the mind to embrace both and spread out. As Elisabeth Wehling a linguist and expert on political framing states, words are not just words but trigger reactions in the brain.  A  multi-lingual intellect is therefore likely to have much more layered reactions and I’d like to think that this helps me to engage differently with a question. The drawback with me though is that I make mistakes which can be frustrating at times. It feels that I have done my thesis many times over in order to get to this version. Now, not having to correct and re-correct, adjust and readjust a large document, all day and half the night, makes my life look different.  I still think a lot about my topic, how digital porosity affects the conveyance of data. Yet I also have started to embrace my newly enhanced agility in manoeuvring complex thinking in my bilingual trans-cultural brain. The viva will be on January the 21st and I look forward to this opportunity to discuss my thesis with experts in my field. Fingers crossed my brain will focus on articulating in English!

The terrifying now of big data and surveillance: A conversation with Jennifer Granick — TED Blog

Concerns are growing around privacy and government surveillance in today’s hyper-connected world. Technology is smarter and faster than ever — and so are government strategies for listening in. As a lawyer for the ACLU, Jennifer Granick (TED Talk: How the US government spies on people who protest — including you) works to demystify the murky […]

via The terrifying now of big data and surveillance: A conversation with Jennifer Granick — TED Blog

Big Data…..Big Trouble? — JB’s LIS Blog

The opening sessions of DITA have really opened my mind to the present-day implications associated with the exponential growth of data and digital technology usage. In recent years we have become so reliant on our numerous electronic devices, from smartphones to tablets, to undertake various tasks over the internet such as communication (email, social media, […]

via Big Data…..Big Trouble? — JB’s LIS Blog

Clive Maclennan at Chateau Marcus and Salon Slum April at x-church

Clive Maclennan showed his beautiful and ever so touching series ‘ A year to Remember…. Or maybe Not’ at Chateau Marcus. In many ways, it was a reworking  of difficult times where he left his job and changed gear to find out more about what matters in him. During this period of change he also lost his boxer named Roderick and let a new dog named Roary in his life. Lots of people had lengthy conversations with Clive which is no wonder as his photographic images were not only simply stunning but also deeply engaging. I particular love the image of the painted over graffiti as it seems to tell so much whilst revealing so little. In it self it is not a silent piece and asks questions about what was actually covered and why. At the same time, it tempts me to think of a word to put there in this beautiful diffuse white space and I struggle to decide between ‘complex’, ‘illegible’ and ‘refuse’.

Salon Slum set off with Octavia Bettis giving a performance standing rather solidary on a chair. She questioned our perception of a person’s appearance, what is the true self, what is put on for appearance, what is actually real. Consequently, she tore off her false finger nails, wiped off her make-up, tossed away her high heels and the inlays of her booster bra. All in all, very poignant but also rather stressful and uncomfortable to watch as it reminded me how we all sometimes can un-revel without actually meaning it.

Then Fenia shared her video about coffee and darkroom and her ideas about archiving present moments and artworks. An ever important question for a performance artist! The video, it has to be said, is really a beautifully quirky piece! I also showed an 8 min excerpt of my  1h 42min long moving image ‘resident’ and I have written about this experience in another blog post. Gabriele Minkeviciute showed a painting which is quite extraordinary and hard to describe as it conflates the personal with the surreal, optimism with utter darkness.

There will be more about her work as she will exhibit at Chateau Marcus in June! Daz Disley had printed out the coding of one of his programs that forms the base for visual collaborations with musicians. Needless to say the printout was at least 15 meters long and simply dazzling. He also showed us an example what he does with it by grabbing images from the Internet and the running them through his program.

Finally, as the last piece Kev Snell, Sam Douce and Keaton Robinson gave a performance together. The Wrong Way Down Jazz Street. This is an entirely new collaboration that came out of Salon Slum March! Kev and Sam where on the drums, whilst Keaton generated an extraordinary speech act. Next to this, Sam also managed a visual stream consisting of deconstructed  images of x-church that were projected across the performing Keaton. Very powerful, very engaging, definitely want to see and hear much more of it!

Overall, it was a brilliant opening of Chateau Marcus and another great Salon Slum and I look forward to what the next events might bring.

Photos by Clive Maclennan, Debs Fulton and myself.


Leakages and Feedback Loops/ Or Why it Matters to Talk about Art


Photos by Clive Maclennan

Why is it so challenging to talk about what we make? Why is art at times such a contested ground? These are the two of the questions that last week’s events at x-church, the opening of Clive Maclennan’s show ‘A year to remember … or maybe not’ and Salon Slum April raised to me. I must say,  I had put myself on the spot with showing an 8min excerpt of the 1h 42’ min long moving image ‘resident’. This is one of the pieces that came out of my residency at x-church and means a lot to me. It is solely made up of snippets of conversations that I had with many of the lovely people I met during this time and, courtesy to Marcus Hammond, a very long drive around Gainsborough in a white transit van.

To be frank I was chuffed as I got, rather unexpectedly, a lot of positive responses. Yet during the screening I became also aware that I had not been able to talk with everyone I had wanted to. This made me feel guilty, partly because I really don’t like the game of in and out, of prioritising one person’s view over another. But in due fairness I have to say that it was mostly out of my hands, not only because of the length of the residency but also the less than ideal weather conditions. Yet what really distracted me during feedback is how far I can go with questions about the piece without being leading, dominating or boring everyone to tears. The thing is that I really wanted to know and things close to me and close to others never leave me cool or chilled. Forever, I worry and look about potential trespasses or unintentional leakages. Aiming to do right by others and to try to do right by your work seems, at times, an act impossible.

Having had all these contradictory feelings in relation to the screening of my own piece made me realise that other artists might feel similarly. Engaging in dialogue over a piece where you as the author had invested so much is not necessarily easy. Simply put, it opens up feedback loops that are out of your control. This can be uncomfortable, especially when the piece is not received as you intended it to be. At least when you care about what you do and at Salon Slum people do care. Yet to reassure you, I can only say that the others seemed to take it rather gracefully and nobody fled suddenly the building or hid in the toilet. Anyway, I also survived albeit with a turmoil of feelings. In the end, I was even glad that I had shown the excerpt of the piece.

What to take forward? I don’t know. Maybe, that a peer review process is so much more than just ‘showing your work’. It can affect you, it can hurt, it can exhilarate, it can give you a sleepless night.  Ideally, it does affect not only you but also the people who engaged with what you had done. I would argue that this is not a bad thing, especially as so little seems to touch us in a world where we have learnt to express ourselves rather effortless through emojis. And sometimes to sleep a little less and to count the medals of the night[1] can be special if not productive.




[1] Have just seen a beautiful painting by Anselm Kiefer that is titled: The famous medals of the night.