Revisiting Maspalomas

Faro Maspalomas is a classic tourist resort on the south coast of Gran Canaria, next to the phantasmagoric dunes which spread out between Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés. I visited the place for the first time in 2007, during Christmas time, while staying in Puerto Rico further on the coast, and searching for interesting environments to perform for camera. The dunes at Maspalomas were an ideal place to work in, at least compared to the environment around Puerto Rico, and I spent a few days with my camera on the dunes. – This visit, six years later, happened coincidentally; I booked a trip to Gran Canaria without knowing where I would end, wanting to escape the renovation going on in my house. And so it happened that I now stay much closer to those same dunes.
On my first visit, during the year of the pig, I had with me the grey woollen scarf, which I used in all images during that year, and the grey pebbles in between the dunes in some places corresponded to its colour. Back then I used my customary technique; with the camera on tripod, I chose the framing of the image and the site where I tried to place myself, turned on the camera and walked into the landscape, stayed for a while, returned and turned off the camera. While editing I usually remove the movement in the beginning and at the end. At that time, while I was looking at the material I realised that the movement away from and back towards the camera really showed the proportions of the dunes. Thus I edited two versions of the work, one with stillness only, and another one with the movement included. In the exhibition on Harakka Island called Year of the Pig I showed them both, first the static one with the silent figure sitting immobile among the dunes, and then the real-time version, where the construction of the images was made apparent by the action of going and returning. Later I even wrote an article comparing these two approaches in terms of reflexivity. An English version is included in the collection Performing Landscape – Notes on site-specific work and artistic research in 2011, in chapter 9.2. “Notes in Sand – Landscape, Movement and the Moving Image” (pp. 254-264) and it is available online, here.
Today I am in Maspalomas again, without a scarf, and with no pressure to create any images. Or rather, with the pressure of creating some other kind of images. And I do have a scarf with me, although an ordinary one. I thought about it on the plane and realized that I could use a dark blue skirt and a thin dark blue silk scarf as my costume if I would like to experiment with something. And I actually did. The experience was rather confusing, though. I thought the dark blue might make a good contrast to the yellow dunes, and it did. But the long dress and the scarf whirling in the wind also made the image absurdly romantic, gothic and pathetic. I experimented with walking into the landscape and disappearing behind the dunes, but it looked rather awkward. Then I tried climbing up the steep slopes, and stopped midway when the effort was too much for me, and then just stood there, with my feet in the sand. This felt somehow meaningful, watching the sand slowly glide down the slope as a result of my movements and letting the wind do the job of moving my skirt and scarf. It felt dramatic, since it took some effort to remain immobile on the slope. Unfortunately the images did not look very interesting or beautiful. A small dark figure among the dunes was nice as an idea, but not so fascinating as an image. For the effort and movement to have some impact the camera should have been much closer. But then again the landscape would disappear into the background. At the moment I do not know what to do, but I will make a few more trials. Right now I am much more interested in the pieces of rubbish thrown in among the bushes or in the sand. As always I do first and think afterwards, or perhaps it is more fair to say that I let my unconscious self do the thinking.
Images from the video Sitting in Sand (2008) See video work
Some details from my attempts today:
A few words the following day: I think I succeeded in making some possibly usable images today, here…
maspalomas 1
Maspalomas 2