COM(M)POST


ONE

INTRO

In 2020 Pearl Compost teamed up with Theory (Sophie Seita) to make the film Pearl and Theory make Compost. On that occasion the compost bin was situated in Blairgowrie, where Pearl has been based since lockdown started.

For her new project, spring 2021, the compost will be located in the 201 Telephone Box Gallery in Fife. A chance to study the worms removed from their natural environment. (Though still given all they need to live fulfilling and productive lives.)


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Composting is a process of layering of green and brown matter, digested by worms. At the beginning of the exhibition, Pearl Compost will add fresh vegetable waste and strips of cardboard on which are written questions (about anything, including coronavirus and lockdown) supplied by the public.

Questions for Pearl Compost will be invited via the
COM(M)POST Facebook page. Pearl will also visit Strathkinness Community Garden and questions will be solicited from the gardeners there, so that the worms are given more to chew on.

After a month, Pearl Compost will release the compost from the telephone box and she will communicate the worms’ answers to the questions that have been put to them. It must be remembered that all worms are equal. Worms work for the greater good of all. All worms are queer (being intersex/hermaphrodite). Worms feel deeply (they have five hearts). Worms work slowly but relentlessly. As worms eat, they separate truth from lies, big truths from little truths, and big lies from little lies: a complicated process.

Spring is a time of regrowth and renewal and, especially in 2021, of HOPE. Pearl’s performance will tune into this spirit in a playful and non-didactic way.

  • Installation: Easter Sunday.
  • 201 Telephone Box Gallery installation viewable by the public. From Sunday April 4 to Sunday May 2.
  • Closing performance, May 2 at 3.45pm. All welcome on the day. Questions welcome in advance of the day. (Give the worms a chance to do their thing,)

This page will be updated as we go along.

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TWO

UPDATE: Friday 23 April

Went along to Strahkinness Community Gardens and Lada Wilson (curator of 201 Telephone Gallery) introduced Bob Bilson who helps run the place. Pearl was impressed by the atmosphere of the gardens: relaxed and friendly. Behind an array of well-kept individual allotments, there were communal growing areas and an orchard of fruit trees in blossom. Bob showed Pearl the various composting areas around the perimeter.

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Highlight of a pleasant and knowledge-filled afternoon - for Pearl - was a discussion of worms that took place towards the end of the tour. Five people in a circle all chipping in what they did and didn't know about the life cycle, and contribution, of the worm. As a bonus, Bob and perhaps a couple more gardeners, have suggested they will come to Pearl's closing performance.

Back at 201 Telephone Box Gallery, the worms have been getting on with things these last three weeks. They have eaten the raw waste that they were given at the beginning, and the mass of the compost has gone down. Upon close inspection, the worms seem happy. Their plastic bin is just little wetter than it should be, so it won't be watered again. Pearl adds a question or two courtesy of Bob, as well as more raw waste for the worms to chew on.

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All are welcome here in ten days for Pearl's closing performance. 3.45pm, Sunday, May 2. Social distancing will be maintained. The worms will reveal answers to the questions that have been put to them. Warts and all.

THREE

Performance: Sunday 2 May

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Lada Wilson introduced the project and Pearl to a socially distanced audience.

Wearing gardening gloves, Pearl cut through the plastic of the compost bin, noting that the worms were alive and well and that they had converted much of the waste to compost in the month they'd had in their temporary home.

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As Pearl changed into a pair of long, orange satin gloves, she reflected on what lockdown had meant to people, how there had been a lot to think about, and how, with the easing of lockdown, we could choose a more sustainable lifestyle. It was up to us.

Then she invited us to see what the worms had made of the questions that had been asked of them.

That they had found
a lot of the questions irrelevant, got laughter from the audience.

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To her surprise, Pearl could not find the bits of paper on which the questions had been written. All had been eaten and turned into compost. Pearl was reminded what some of the questions had been, and she, in consultation with the worms, told us what she thought. Or rather what the worms thought.

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A new pair of gloves was required for the purpose of reading what Donna Harraway has written about compost. Information that was communicated to Pearl in 2020, courtesy of Theory (the clever and unassuming Sophie Seita).



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Pearl read from a postcard whose picture looked much like the contents of a compost bin or a wheelbarrow full of 'muck':

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Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights. 1500

She read:

"Compost is place of working, a place of making and unmaking. It can serve as a metaphor and a methodology through which nature can teach us a framework to appreciate sustainable and caring ways of being, of being in the world, of being together. In order to become earthly, to become compost, we ned to move like worms through soil."

Pearl then donated the barrow-fun of worm-rich compost to Strathkinness Community Gardens, a donation accepted by Bob Bilson who said he would divide it between their various compost bins.

Lastly, Pearl was photographed posing with various smiling members of the audience, including David McCullough, director of Nomas* Gallery in Dundee.

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A sustainable time was had by all. Thanks in particular to Lada Wilson, Scott Wilson, Bob Bilson, Duncan McLaren and everyone who submitted a question for the worms.


FOUR

OUTRO

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