Back in Nyon, 8 airports in 6 days; absence of internet in Majorca was sublime. Shall attempt to blog those days in some kind of order …
Category Archives: Pangea Ultima – Der Sturz des Ikarus
Pangea Ultima – Der Sturz des Ikarus is a performance by the Suisse/French group, Le collectif de la Dernière Tangente, to premiere in early 2014. I was assistant for the Majorca location filming in April, 2013 with Dasniya Sommer, visual artist Bernard Garo, and composer Eric Fischer.
Icarus Tree Suspension Shoot
One of the three suspensions for which my climbing skills have been useful, the cliff-top tree above the gouged out bay where waves hit tide-line caves like the sound of distant artillery. Tree-climbing though isn’t one of my skills. It feels treacherous and slippery, especially with the apparently un-Majorca-like rain we’ve had every day but the first.
So I make myself useful with clambering around the boughs, covering Dasniya with clay, variously organising things like a good assistant on set, and taking what photos I can. I particularly liked the silhouetted trees and Dasniya forward of the grey clouds, and also found something funny – in a Dutch Masters or some such style – of the composition of Bernard and Eric talking together, with Antonie on obscured on camera and Dasniya grappling with the tree.
Later I enjoyed myself setting up anchors around a tree and then hanging over the side above still-turbulent waves and killingly sharp rocks.
Last Day, & at Caló des Moro
The last day of Majorca, (written when I’m back in Berlin). More rain. It’s highly improbable to have so many days of greyness and rain in a row, and still more so a storm of the size we had, of which the effects linger. We went to Cala Mondragó (I think), to shoot Dasniya coming out of the ocean. Arriving, the beach was destroyed, detritus strewn up well past the sand, and where once was a beach was now a pile of seaweed and other decomposing things.
Back to Caló des Moro then, the beautiful cove we were in on the first day. Post-storm, the beach is also missing, which perhaps is the natural state, as the limestone is cut by the tides all the way to the end of the bay, well above where the sand was, suggesting any sandiness is of the ‘dumped by dredgers’ kind.
Setting up the anchor was a lot quicker today, with all the changes in how it would be shot – these were basically test shoots, as there are plans to return later in the year to get them when the ocean has returned to its pristine clarity. I spent most of the afternoon squatting far above the water, enjoying the view, while Dasniya and François the diver slogged through the cold water. It was a little like Parsifal: most of a day of setting up for 20 minutes of action.
The evening was eating the remainders in the fridge – Majorcan cheese is delectable, and the wine also – the usual night viewing of the day’s rushes, accompanied by a friend of Bernard who is a real estater in Santanyí. The last night in that beautiful studio bedroom, and then 5am darkness arising for the homeward-bound leg.
Night Pool Shoot
We have a pool also, which I have yet to dip more than fingers in. Dasniya has been swimming around in it most nights, with François the scuba-diving cameraman. Last night the blanketing grey cleared around an almost-full moon, which lit the ocean as bright as a false dawn. Sufficient lack of light to make it possible to do long exposures without them burning out. Dasniya thinks it looks like kitch-y postcards. Rather impressed with new camera discoveries, I made a 60 second exposure pointing directly up, kind of my Hubble Deep Field attempt. Expecting blackness, I was well-pleased to see a sprinkling of stars. Some chroma noise to remove (and one minute arc of motion blur I have no idea how to compensate), and also not an especially interesting part of the sky, just to one side of the Big Dipper, but still, my first attempt as astrophotography.
Es Maressos Garden
After the storm last night, woken in its depths with lightning and violent rumbling and thudding of waves, our plans for the day underwent much reconsideration, not the least because it was too dangerous for diving; the storm was still generating large swells in the evening, and the previous day’s clear turquoise bays were thick and cloudy with sediment and detritus.
Instead, we photographed and filmed the waves breaking on the promontories, smashing into the cliffs, spray hurled up as high as the houses above then falling in turbulent veils. Not a particularly large storm, windy days on the coast of Victoria churn the oceans just as much; it’s the shape of the bay, which funnels the waves, giving nowhere to go except to bash from all angles against each other and the rocks.
I joined in the videoing, and looking at some sites for things tomorrow, and in-between, turned my gaze to the minutia of the gardens. Layered down the slope of the underlying limestone, paths wind amongst a carefully tended wildness. In summer, it probably makes sense, the thin, small trees above baked earth; now, it seems in places almost like the high-altitude flora above the tree-line. Dasniya then spent some time in the pool, testing some underwater footage we’ll be shooting later this evening.
And earlier, some not happy news: Heppenheim for this year is most likely not going to happen, as there is unexpected street works, of the digging and heavy machinery type.
This is where we wake up each morning. We moved the table later today so we have a complete, uninterrupted view. The windows – if they can be called that at such a size; walls perhaps – also open. Last night in the storm with the lights out, I opened the one directly in front so we were exposed to its massiveness.
Some years ago, I saw a video of the most-grunting Chris Sharma, the Tom Cruise of climbing, deep-water soloing a sea arch, which he finally summited after much heroic falling into the brine. It was impressively hard, unrepeated, and went at 9b. It took me a while, when I discovered I’d be accompanying Dasniya to Majorca, to work out where Majorca was (besides, that is, in the Mediterranean), and to work out from there where we would be staying.
The website of the house only located it as near as the town, though from the images, I could see there was a sea arch within view, which gave me something to work on. This mainly because there was talk of perhaps doing something on it, and the photos I’d seen made it difficult to differentiate a four- or five-meter high bridge of limestone from a 20- or 30-meter one. I thought it looked like the former, so while Google Mapping my way along the coast from the town, when I saw a ship-sized off-shore bulge, decided from the shadow it was way too large and kept scrubbing along the coast. Nothing. Either it’s too small to show up, or it’s somewhere else, because it can’t be that shipwreck of a rock.
Turns out I was wrong. Combining all my information with a search for climbing turned up as the first video, Sharma yelling his way up into the crotch of the arch, the top of which is visible from our bedroom curtain-wall windows. I’m rubbish at estimating heights, so let’s say it’s two or three Berlin apartment blocks in size, and the climb goes from the inside of the right leg, topping out to the right of the keyhole. As far as climbing goes, it’s that particular type of hard, overhung limestone sports climb, which has all the beauty of cleaning behind the stove while one’s head is in the neighbouring cupboard.
It’s dead beautiful though when getting pounded by storm swells, like a supertanker, inexorable against the water.
Es Maressos, Cala Santanyí, Majorca
The Mediterranean is un-sea-like. I mean, it doesn’t smell and taste of salty ocean the way it does in Australia or elsewhere down below. The swell is also more subdued. But oh is it glorious to be perched above a vast, disinterested body of water once more.
We woke at 4am, me finishing a peculiar dream where all my teeth wobbled and then fell out, ivory rubble on the night asphalt. Some half-awake packing, and 5 minutes of last-minute internet madness, then off to the Geneva airport once more. Lucky for Speedy Boarding because the queue was like Guangzhou Main Station at Chinese New Year. A shortish plane journey where I alternately snoozed and worked out how a GoPro works (a bit like a mobile phone from 2001), met the remaining two of our six, and then arriving, finding our car, a supermarket stop somewhere, and arriving proper.
We six are staying in a house, so to speak. By Australian standards, it’s a normal-to-large family home, mostly on one level, with a winding stairwell to the master bedroom, and from there a ladder to the turret roof, where the view approximately east takes in a swathe of ocean bookended by dry limestone cliffs and shrubby arid flora. Beside, and off the entrance/dining area is a pool which flows over one end, giving the illusion that it becomes the sea. And below that, off to the north-ish side, is the small studio, curtain windows on two walls overlooking gardens and that aforementioned swathe, and where Dasniya and I shall be sleeping and waking the remainder of the week.
Yes, it’s quite surreal. The ocean is an endlessly deep, clear, and brilliant turquoise, cobalt, aquamarine, azure, depending on the sun, or leaden when the clouds move over. To the left, just viewed out our bedroom windows is the massive sea arch which Chris Sharma soloed in 2007. Yes, that one. It’s our bedroom wall, more or less.
Not that we have spent much time admiring the view from here. Unpacking, a quick lunch, a walk along the coast to look at locations, repacking ropes and other equipment, a drive through towns and through narrow roads bordered trench-like by hand-built limestone walls, olive groves and houses, buildings of ochre, terracotta, umber, to another vast plate of ocean and sky above equally rampart-like cliffs, and then on to another more subdued bay down a narrow path, following the coastline until arriving at a rectangular bay shaped like a chisel-stroke, the sea unbearably light blue, and for us hours of discussions, walking, looking, pondering, eventually for me building something of a seven-metre, three-point anchor above a cave undercut into the stone by the tide, in front of which, Dasniya will hang.
Which we will return to tomorrow. We have a cameraperson, a diver, a musician, an artist, a performer, and me, something of ‘assistant’.
A not-too early flight from the stupidest airport in the world besides Heathrow: Flughafen Schönefeld. Dasniya and I packed till late on Monday, so not-too early nonetheless meant barely five hours sleep. Still, a taxi to the airport (definitely not as fast as the train) kept stupidity to a minimum (somehow getting half-way to the plane before someone realised Dasniya was trying to board with a pass from the last time she went to Geneva not included), and getting on easyJet with 23kg of checkin junk thanks to a very nice woman relieved us of the near-expected suitcase-contents-shuffle.
Sleep. Apparently with my mouth open. And, Geneva! The last time I was over this side of Switzerland was late-summer, 2005, staying in Vevey with Victoria, and hanging out with Roland and the other dancers there. We didn’t even touch Geneva proper, driving instead along the coast Lausanne-wards to a town called Nyon. “Lyon?” says I, “No, Nnneee-on,” says Dasniya.
Bernard picks us up, and we drive to his wonderful studio, a babbling stream below the windows, trees everywhere, and the A-line factory roof letting in light everywhere. Eric is already there, the musician from Lyon. Lunch and going through the old town, set on a hill with a castle (of course), and the huge sky, lake, mountains (Mount Blanc somewhere there in the haze), vineyards, like a deranged circle of excess landscape and scenery. Just like Vevey, really, and also the unique and specific Suisse opulence. Money. Money everywhere until it’s normal, just like in Berlin the lack of is normal and life adapts to both.
Dasniya and Bernard try out some tying things with slings we pick up from a sail-maker’s workshop, me filming and photographing, the sun setting over the rail-lines. Then dinner, eating and drinking, of course plenty of Suisse chocolate (Belgian is better, harhar – though in truth they are not so much to be compared; the milk giving a unique taste and feel to cheese and chocolate).
Packing, Un-, re-, and, well there isn’t really an english word like there is in german for ‘moving-around-packing’, like you can make by prefixing um- to a word, so umpacking it is (unless of course I’ve forgotten the english word). We have to be up and breakfasting at 4am for a 0645 flight to Paloma. I make some yoga, which now has become a mix of my old Melbourne teacher, Dasniya, Isabelle (no, she didn’t do yoga, but I’ve adapted it), Pilates, my own sacro-psoas inventions … returning to proper sun salutes recently because I want to build some upper-body strength (I still delude myself that one day I’ll bash out a proper press-up), Then to bed, where I have horrible dreams my teeth are loose and spongy and falling like rubble out of my gums while I wait for a bus.
An aside here, or addendum, coda, to the teeth: We have no internet in the house in Majorca, so I write this approximately on the day of the events, and have / will blog once internet is reattained. To be honest, not having internet is deliciously pleasurable.)
In Nyon today, beginning project with Dasniya, Ber…
In Nyon today, beginning project with Dasniya, Bernard, and Le collectif de la Dernière Tangente. Off to Majorca tomorrow, and no internet!