Daniella Valz Gen

A spiral dance around the dead 

This text is one of various commissioned responses to SALVAGE Festival; a day of performance art on and around the coastline of Folkstone during the summer of 2019.

︎︎︎ about SALVAGE

Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, SALVAGE, 2019. Photo credit pending.

"The moon fall (and when it was about to hit the surface of the sea, its doppelgaenger appear)"

A dance with the dead as the tide comes in

A dance with the tide


A circle on the sand upon the next loss

A song to the colliding moon


We’re down on the sandbank amongst the moored boats. It’s high noon and the last of the summer sun shines perpendicular casting no shadow. Behind us, up on the promenade, people come and go (ice creams, fish and chips and beers on hand). The Brexit Party has set up a stand from which they hand out newspapers to passersby. A bright day with a chilly wind, accentuated contrasts and tensions.

It stands on the sand for a few moments before pacing around in tentative circles in front of the rising tide. The head crowned by seaweed and pacing round, forwards and back, looking out through the boats, beyond the concrete barrier and into the coming tide.

A motion to not only warm up the body, but also the voice, before addressing the dead to start an invocation.

A circle around the island

As it names the island where all dead things end, it calls the landscape of the dead to this island, floating off across from Europe. The ghost song is carried by the cold winds --a memory of the past, a subdued moan. As it names its ancestors, its dead commune with all the dead, human and non human, in a subtle invocation, discreet and unassuming, like any other everyday affair. You would have to pay attention closely to notice the shifts in the air as death settles.

A circle around the labour of the dead

To decompose is to resist being used, reused, consumed and deployed. Once the fact of decomposing matter is named, all the shells become ghost vessels and the stench of dead fish intensifies. Even the moored boats are corpse-like when the tide is still out.

To change form is to join the ranks of the dead in the labour of refusal, the refusal to produce and reproduce. This is the rehearsal of the work we are inevitably preparing for. It circles around the edge and delineates it for us.   

A circle of seaweed

As the deadly fumes from mass death of seaweed since 2011 are named, the ring of seaweed around its head becomes heavy as a nooze. We are strung together in the dance of life and death. We inhale and exhale through forms of extinction. Affected, intoxicated.

A circle for the moon

In the dance between the moon and sea, the movement of two bodies ends in a collision. As moon sinks waters rise up to mirror them.

Lunar gravity also pulls our inner tides, molecular. A form of cannibalism from the inside out --it asserts. Like being part of decomposing shellfish, seaweed and ghost. Inevitably, inhaling and exhaling death. Both recomposing and decomposing as part of one whole body that we take from. We kill to live through.

A circle for the tide

It enters the water once the tide fills in the basin and swims around in a circle, returning the seaweed on its body back to the waters, and stops stops mid circumference to float belly up, suspended between sea and atmosphere, before it gathers itself to complete the circle and swim back out through the empty boats.