Pulse is a time-lapse film that speaks about radical acts of transformation through fire and ritual performativity. It depicts the burning to ashes of a defunct handmade beehive while a restorative soundtrack conjures the bees back to life. The soundtrack features the sounds of the !goin!goin or bullroarer, a San honey-gathering instrument that attracts and lands swarms of bees and which is also used for long-distance communication. The bullroarers were sculpted by the artist to archival dimensions, from the wood of another defunct hive. The film is conceptually completed by a series of charcoal drawings created from the ashes of the burn (Nest i-x), which transpose San drawings of bees’ nests.
The time-lapse was photographed outside the artist’s studio at an industrial park in Cape Town. The hive was positioned on a defunct railway track that runs past the studio doors, positioned just before the lines switch direction, and the artwork’s meaning is likewise about a switching point. Fire as a vector of social protest is widely prevalent in contemporary politics. More specifically, the significance of the burn is site-specific and relates to Cape bees battling a disease called American foulbrood, a bacteria that causes colony collapse. The most effective remedy is destruction by burning.
Acknowledgements: Photographer Daleen Nel Hall took the photographs. Hennie Prinsloo gifted me the handmade hives that were damaged and rendered defunct by a fire on his Pretoria farm. Brendon Bussy recorded my bullroarer performances. Bruce Arnott directed me to the Harald Pager archives of San honeygathering techniques.
Title: Pulse (2016)
Artist: Kim Gurney
Medium: Time lapse film
Duration: 4’07’’ looped
Photography credit: Daleen Nel Hall