Fluid Dynamics; The Quail is Rising (2020)
Single screen video with sound
6 mins 20 secs.
Under Essex Road, (Islington, London) flows the remains of the New River, a sophisticated engineering project from the early 17C designed¹ to bring fresh water to London from the countryside to its North.
Chodzko’s video proposes that from the remains of its systems of flow arise the fragments of a collective imaginary that draws aquatic elements from that vicinity together, across time. A ship, the Training Ship Quail, (a secluded purpose-built space for Islington Sea Cadets, currently closed but soon to be relaunched for local children) has become stuck in a glitch in the present whilst its crew try to navigate it along the New River’s subterranean channels. This same crew simultaneously haunt the TS Quail’s sister ship, the destroyer HMS Quail (adopted by the people of Islington in 1942, for service in WWII) whose wreck lies on the seabed in the Gulf of Taranto (under the sole of the ‘boot’ of Italy).
Their group actions (eg; listening, winding/unwinding, compressing and dancing² ) as well as their collective consciousness and time travelling restore everything, through this ‘channelling’, to a state of liquidity, allowing us, the viewer, to ‘float’ once more.
In the future the New River is seen to resurface in a completely rewilded Islington that still retains some traces of a few of Essex Road’s premises from the present; a library, a pub, a dry-cleaners and a shop selling tropical fish for aquariums.
From a stagnant woodland pond something rises; The call of a quail (translated by birders as ‘wet my lips’) levitates us towards the sky.
[¹] When the New River was first created (designed by Hugh Myddleton, 1560-1631) its course culminated in the Round Pond, near Sadler’s Wells, London. To celebrate its launch in 1613 a play was performed. Chodzko suggests that Fluid Dynamics; The Quail is Rising is a contemporary revival of this imagined play.
[²] The crew dance to the Song of the Vomero washerwomen, sung in Neapolitan slang. It is taken from The Cat Cinderella (La Gatta Cenerentola) by Roberto De Simone , performed by the Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare. According to some, during the 15th century it was sung by the Neapolitan people to protest against the failure to redistribute the land promised by Alfonso V D’Aragona. According to others, it is a peasant protest song probably from 1200, born in the area of Antignano al Vomero. Whatever the period of its origin, the song was heard, by Giovanni Boccaccio, who grew up in Napoli (between 1327 and 1340), and who talked about it in a letter, impressed by its beauty.
Fluid Dynamics; The Quail is Rising: Vimeo version (at low resolution)
The crew of the TS Quail: Patrick Bailey, Martin Edwards, Gretchen Egolf, Rylie Goodchild, Gilbert Kyem Jnr, Biz Lyon, Amy Vicary-Smith.
With thanks to the Islington & Stoke Newington Sea Cadets, at the Training Ship Quail, Islington.
Commissioned by Teresa Grimes, TINTYPE. www.tintypegallery.com