"Fantastic!" - Philip Meersman, Director of Brussels Poetry Festival
"a beautiful chaos" - Scott Thurston, Reader in English & Creative Writing (Salford University)
A Review of Reading Movement: A Work-in-Progress by Camilla Nelson for the Embodied Cartographies exhibition, Bath Festival Fringe, 5 June 2017.
"The programme was a folded blank sheet with only a title, typed in capitals and pasted on the front. We were to read into this what we wanted. At times, I wanted to read the book the performer, Camilla, held: the thin bound book from which she drew a slowly escalating scattering of sounds. They were sounds that began as rasped breath, a kind of death rattle; then became a retching effort that wracked her black-and-white skirted body.
But first she lay huddled over its secrets under a square-snow fall of torn pages dropped from a wide-brimmed hat. She rolled up and over, restlessly reading along the way, as you might if studying something with the potential to overwhelm you. Something that resisted you. The sounds - not so much primal as unschooled – began to reverberate in my solar plexus with the unsettlement of sickness. Some elicited in me the nervous humour that madness might.
Her dulled eyes went from the page to some far-sighted invisible screen that may have been blank. We sat circled in a small, white-washed chapel with a scuffed old oak floor. Outside, wind-blown June rains soaked bushes and darkened the grave stones. When she came to standing, her body waved as if caught by the wind. Into the mutter of sounds fell a few recognizable words resolving her anguish. Maybe the audience, like me, were relieved.
Afterwards, I did not ask to see the book. I was moved and needed to move. On wet Walcot Street under buffeted umbrellas my companion and I spoke only briefly but felt those hard-won words in our bodies. My friend considered how words are captured like wool on barbed wire fences. I thought of the grey maps on the chapel walls with countour lines thickened and blurred into lost human forms. Walking for words, reading words, reading movement."
Reviewed by Sara Firman (poet & artist)