Witness: Emma Critchely

This was just a beauty of an event! Witness is a performance piece in multiple languages and simultaneous film installation commissioned by the Earth Water Sky programme.

Short, only 29 mins in fact (and on a loop throughout the installation openings times), but Emma Critchley‘s installation packs a huge punch in terms of creative vision, delivery and engagement in a stylish and stunning way.

Through her filmic work (she’s an underwater photography specialist), she links the human body and glaciers through movement, words and images, this triple-screen film installation is a meditation on how everything we and our world are completely interconnected.

This event at the Attenborough Centre, was the fruit of Critchley’s time on the environmental art and science residency programme at the Science Gallery Venice, where she spent a year with a team of climate scientists on the Ice Memory Project: a global initiative to create an archive of ice cores from glaciers that are rapidly disappearing.

And what a brilliant way to encourage a wider understanding of the issues facing the world as a result of global warming than from a creative response as intuitive as this.

During the residency she worked with climate scientists to create an archive of ice cores from glaciers that are rapidly disappearing. Each core holds bubbles of ancient air preserved from the Earth’s atmosphere from up to 2.7 million years ago, which tell us about our climatic past and help understand predicted future.

The libretto for the work (English versionItalian versionSpanish version), includes excerpts from interviews with people in Kenya and Peru, who are living with glacial retreat from Kilimanjaro and Cordillera Blanca and which become moving witness statements to the film. The Earth Water Sky Residency Programme is curated and produced by Ariane Koek.

Emma Critchley is a Brighton resident, although to my shame hasn’t been on my radar, but how lucky the city is to have a visual artist as groundbreaking and exquisite as this in our midst. I only wish I hadn’t forgotten my glasses to get the full effect of this event. I would love to see it again.

It is fully booked, but you can see a trailer of the work here. Recommended!

Witness is part of Brighton Festival 2022, running 7 – 29 May brightonfestival.org


This event is taking place in Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9RA


Till 15th May

Installation 11am–9pm (7, 8, 12 & 13 May 11am–3pm)
Last entry 45 mins before closing time
Performances 7, 8, 12 & 13 May, 5pm & 7pm

Installation FREE
Performances with live spoken word £5

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