Caroline Bergvall, Conference, 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

Caroline Bergvall, Conference, 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

Caroline Bergvall
Conference (after Attar)

2018

Drop in from 17:00 and after 18:30,
with a more focused conversation time between 17.30-18.30

Conference (after Attar) centres on a live conversation led by Caroline Bergvall with a quartet of speakers: a scholar, a poet, a calligrapher and an ornithologist. The conversation will ask how languages migrate and settle, how love poetry crosses histories, how traces create places, and the role of birds on the imagination. The title is an allusion to The Conference of the Birds, a classic mystic medieval work by Persian poet Attar, first adapted into English by Chaucer.

Set up ambisonically with sound artist Dan Scott, Conference (after Attar) develops into a cycle of sounds and local languages, including migratory songbirds captured on their return to Kent this spring. It also features a vocal composition for soprano Peyee Chen, written for Bergvall by renowned British composer Gavin Bryars based on medieval tonalities here reprised spatially.

The Conference of the Birds is a medieval mystical work by Persian poet Attar, composed of poetic sections, dialogues, conversations and parables in which allegorical birds are encouraged to set out on a spiritual quest. In keeping with this motif, our conversation explored ideas of journeying and asked how languages migrate and settle, how love poetry crosses histories, how traces create places, and the vast question of migratory and endangered species. Each speaker was asked to reflect on their own trajectory and how their practice and concerns might respond to the mystical initiatory journey set up by Attar.

This performance by acclaimed writer and artist Caroline Bergvall, winner of the Centre Pompidou’s prestigious Prix Litteraire Bernard Heidsieck Prix, is the first stage of a two year partnership between Whitstable Biennale and Bergvall’s major international project Sonic Atlas.

Gavin Bryars’ composition was originally written for Bergvall’s 2016 work, Ragadawn.

Caroline Bergvall, Conference, 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

Caroline Bergvall, Conference, 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

Caroline Bergvall