After the Run
EMPAC (Studio 2), Troy, New York, March 20-22 2014
After the Run is an installation storytelling told in video, sound and lights. It starts with the eel run: a migration that happens each September on the coming of the new moon. As the eels pass through the Delaware River by night, the Great Bear, Ursa Major, is recreated above New York’s Catskill Mountains in twinkling lights. After the run, the story winds into a myriad of conjoined tales, crossing oceans, histories, memories and lives, from Athena, to King John, and me, Helen of Troy.
Rumor has it that once, in the Cretan water of lake Kournas, the reflections of the White Mountains writhed with freshwater eel. Under the watchful eyes of Athena’s temple they were comrades with the little owl Glaucus. Five thousand miles away under the footprint of the Catskills, a fisherman ran an eel weir on the Delaware River. As he harvested the run he was watched by eagles and bears and bees. They danced in the shadows of rabbits and deer, watched by the new moon and stars.
Or, perhaps I’ll tell you this…
For three years, I watched the low heavy fenlands of rural England flood and recede. There were eels there once, in their thousands. They wove across the wet fields and teemed through the Great Ouse river that empties into the cold North Sea. King John lost the Crown Jewels there once, on the causeway of the Wash. His horse-drawn carts were too slow for the rising tide and all was lost but the king. But, I digress.
Those eels were trapped and fished, smoked, and jellied. They furnished the bellies of herons and coons. But they are united: E Pluribus Unum; Out of many, one.
The rest of this story is still untold.
Helen J. Bullard is a research-based British artist, currently living in New York. Her practice tells stories about animals, encompassing such topics as biomedicine and the horseshoe crab, and chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer. She has worked in residency with, among others, University of Gothenburg, University of Cambridge UK, Lighthouse Digital Culture Agency, University College London, SymbioticA, Arts Catalyst and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.