THE ANGUILLADAE EATER

THE ANGUILLADAE EATER

Project Description

Part of her forthcoming collection THE HOPE OF FLOATING HAS CARRIED US THIS FAR (Coffee House Press, 2015), Quintan Ana Wikswo’s THE ANGUILLADAE EATER is a constellation of works in literature, photography, 35mm film, and performance collaboration with composer Veronika Krausas. An ancient seafaring adventure that ruptures the primordial erotic mythos of women, sailors and the sea, THE ANGUILLADAE EATER offers a highly-charged inquiry into the legacy of ecological exploitation and human gratification.

With an iron eel rake and a bed filled with eggs and crow feathers, an eel priestess stands at her ridge to watch the ships, and the sailing men who come for her: an otherworldly, mesmerizing encounter between human and animal, hunting and harvest, entitlement and exploitation.

Quintan Ana Wikswo’s unsettlingly luminous films were created at sites of mass animal slaughter along the desolate New York and California coastlines. Her original animated 35mm films reveal Point Dume’s Paradise Cove where thousands of California grey whales were harpooned, lanced to death and flensed into oil, and Barren Island’s Dead Horse Bay boneheaps where the bodies of New York City’s carriage horses were rendered into glues and fertilizers.

Veronika Krausas’ haunting, post-apocalyptic music for harmonica invokes the ancient cadences, overtones, and disharmonies of the Baltic coast: sailor songs, pagan chants, and the sounds of cormorants and seagulls. Bill Barrett’s solo harmonica creates a compelling sonic voice, simultaneously ancient and deeply modern.

THE ANGUILLADAE EATER / JONAS (Catalysis Projects) is available on DVD here:

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Artist Statement

I began ANGUILLADAE EATER on the Curonian Spit of Lithuania, where once upon a time Vikings came south across the Baltic to conduct regular raids. Many opinions still come into conflict surrounding the relationship between the Viking men and the tribal Curonian women: were these raids romantic – as the stories suggest – or were they sites of mass rape? I stood at the shore and thought of the ancient goddess-worshiping women who stood at the same site, watching the horizon for the inevitable arrival of the ships.

I came back to the U.S. and encountered two beaches – one where thousands of whales were slaughtered by sailors, and one where thousands of horses were slaughtered by New York City. As I stood on these shore looking out at the sea and wondering what those men and animals experienced at the same site and vista, I was reminded of a parallel moment on the Baltic shore.

Literature

EXCERPT / 

one.

He sucks at my breasts and tugs my nipples and – with one finger –presses down on the median of me until a single egg emerges from between my legs.

He smoothes the peak of my hairline and the sweaty locks around my forehead, leaving a residue of my oil on his thumb that will stay for days.

I am exhausted but will return to the ridge to watch the ships. A tall narrow spritsail, mainmast sprit-rigged.

Reef point at upper edge.

Dawn.

 

two.

He carries my egg in a waxed leather sack. It rests within a nest of dried seaweed, warm and chalky as phosphate.

Rain today, as always.

And later I will return – cold – from the ridge at sundown and build a fire in my hearth.

As always, it will produce a black haze so thick my flesh itself turns grey.

But in its dark, gentle heat, I will let down my hair and pick it out quietly with a comb, the small bodies of my lice igniting with a hollow pop in the coals near my feet.

Film

Credits

Film, Text, and Photographs: Quintan Ana Wikswo

Composer: Veronika Krausas

Harmonica: Bill Barrett

Voice: Amber Benson

THE ANGUILLADAE EATER / JONAS (Catalysis Projects) is available on DVD here:

THE ANGUILLADAE EATER is supported by the Corporation of Yaddo, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, and Catalysis Projects / LA.

Performances, exhibitions and presentations include Beyond Baroque (Los Angeles), Unnameable Books (Brooklyn), Unsung (curated by James Illgenfritz), MicroFest (curated by Aron Kallay), Cal State University at Fullerton, World Electroacoustic Listening Room Project.