Arrivals and Departures
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES Yara El Sherbina & Davina Drummond
Two playful social practice artists, Davina and Yara, developed an interactive installation inspired by a traditional split flap arrivals and departures board. Instead of announcing planes or trains, the board announces births (arrivals) or lost lives (departures) of individuals, contributed by audience members.
Seedbed enabled the artists, who live on different continents, to spend an intensive week working together at 101, which they found particularly valuable as they are rarely able to spend that much time together in the same space. 101 provided both conceptual and technical support to develop the work.
101 arranged an opportunity for the artists to share the R & D prototype with two small focus groups of local people, who submitted names of loved ones to go on the board for the session. The focus group's responses on how they experienced the work and emotionally connected to it, informed the final development of the project. Arrivals and Departures was subsequently commissioned for full realisation by Without Walls.
The artists felt that having time at 101 early in the development of the project was essential to their success in gaining support from Without Walls. They found the supportive community spirit of 101 incredibly helpful – from providing complex technical support, to recruiting the focus groups, to sorting out practical issues like food shopping! Above all, they valued 101’s strong belief in the project and their support in developing the concept.
Being at 101 placed them in a community of experienced outdoor artists who they could share ideas with and learn from. Yara and Davina's work usually takes places in gallery settings so it was a new experience to work outdoors. They developed new relationships with presenters and producers, leading to longer-term relationships, including with festivals.
Arrivals and Departures is an interactive installation about life, death and the journey in between. It takes the form of an analogue arrivals and departures board, which is placed in both outdoor and indoor settings. Each showing is supported by a programme of events, talks and workshops that explore a range of issues associated with commemorating new life, honouring the living, acknowledging our own mortality, bringing attention to death, and tending to grief and loss; subjects that need to be spoken about more to help us live well.
Arrivals and Departures was premiered at Somerset House in London in autumn 2020, and then presented at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in New York in spring 2021 with further showings at the Brighton and the Norfolk & Norwich festivals in May 2021.