Over 100 people welcomed the rise of a new day together on Saturday morning with a sunrise performance by the internationally-renowned, Norwegian artist, writer and performer, Caroline Bergvall.
Performed on the roof terrace of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, over-looking the Sound of Sleat towards the Knoydart Peninsula and the lights of Mallaig, Ragadawn (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach, 57.5˚T) was a unique sunrise performance brought to Skye by visual arts organisation, ATLAS Arts.
In collaboration with Gaelic speakers on the island, Bergvall devised a powerful and entrancing piece, which took the audience on a sonic journey as the sun rose above the mountains. The dawn chorus' of birds and a passing rain shower added to a multifaceted work, as Bergvall's spoken word composition was complemented by the soprano voice of Peyee Chen, and languages from across Europe, including Gaelic recorded on Skye.
Following the performance, the audience meandered to the college dining hall for a breakfast feast of porridge and kedgeree, seaweed bread and warming tea and coffee – using locally sourced ingredients and Scottish suppliers.
For Bergvall, she said that this performance in Skye will always have a very special place for her and in the work's trajectory: "The remoteness, the weather, the extraordinary landscape and changing skies, the physical demands setting up the work in these conditions, the audience who made it for 5am, the bond I felt between the work and the landscape, and the strong connection with ATLAS Arts throughout our 2 years' work to make this happen.
This is, so far, the first performance of Ragadawn where so many minoritarian or at risk languages were featured, and where Gaelic speakers could be heard prominently throughout the work. It was very moving to be in a place where Gaelic is actively spoken and where that aspect was accessible to a number of its audience members. It seemed to make all the other languages of Ragadawn also more alive, as though more connected across space and time."
ATLAS' Director, Emma Nicolson was impressed by how the work drew people together: "We were thrilled to see so many people enthusiastically get up early to welcome the dawn together and we couldn't have asked for a more unique setting than the rooftop of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO). Watching the sky transition from dark to light, combined with Caroline's mix of poetry, language, and song all created an extremely atmospheric way to waken the mind and body. Although ephemeral the event took a lot of planning and we are extremely grateful to the many people that helped in the preparation and production of the event especially the staff at SMO."
Later in the year the work will be performed in Marseille, before going on to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and later Berlin in 2019.