TALK: ‘Tungsten Requiem’ with Light Artist Michael Hulls
Saturday 8 December 2018
To celebrate the opening of his new installation Tungsten Requiem at Messums Wiltshire, acclaimed ‘choreographer of light’ Michael Hulls will talk about his career, his new work and his love of tungsten light sources and what makes them so unique.
Once the staple of the dance hall, these simple warm bulbs are being gradually erased from commercial activity. For Hulls, tungsten has particular qualities which make it special and he believes that we all stand to lose something as it becomes extinct. According to Hulls our eyes and homes are becoming impoverished with its demise, which proves sufficient inspiration to create Tungsten Requiem, an eight piece installation that will be installed at Messums Wiltshire throughout the winter, created using some of the last Tungsten lamps available.
Tungsten Requiem is a reflection on the light’s fragile beauty and the mesmerising qualities of the the delicate glowing of the tungsten filament in much the same way as staring into the glowing embers of an open fire. The connection to his career as a lighting choreographer can be clearly sensed as these individual lights pulse and dance in concert or in solo through each of the 8 constellations of lights suspended in the space. The work includes a soundtrack by composers Andy Cowton and Mukul.
Hulls’ unique works are in some ways in the paeons of all great art, a soliloquy on the act or process of dying. The words of Dylan Thomas seem to glow within his works, ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’. With Tungsten Requiem Hulls joins an elite group of artists including Judy Pfaff and David Spriggs who have been invited to make a solo response to the unique setting of Messums Wiltshire’s thirteenth-century tithe barn.
Michael Hulls trained in dance and theatre at Dartington College and in 1992 was awarded a bursary by the Arts Council to attend dance lighting workshops with Jennifer Tipton in New York.
Hull’s collaborations with Russell Maliphant have won international critical acclaim and many awards: Sheer won a Time Out Award for Outstanding Collaboration, Choice won a South Bank Show Dance Award, PUSH, with Sylvie Guillem, won four major awards including the Olivier for Best New Dance Production and AfterLight won two Critics Circle awards. Hulls and Maliphant also collaborated on Broken Fall, commissioned by BalletBoyz, which also featured Sylvie Guillem and won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. Fallen, their most recent work for BalletBoyz, won the 2014 Critics Circle Award for Best Modern Choreography. In 2007, Michael and Russell’s work was the subject of BalletBoyz’s Channel 4 documentary Light and Dance and The Daily Telegraph hailed their collaboration as “possibly the most important creative partnership in modern British dance”.
In 2009 Hulls became an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and in 2010 his contribution to dance was recognised with his entry into the Oxford Dictionary of Dance. In 2014 Hulls received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. In 2016 he created LightSpace an installation at Sadler’s Wells and the first ever presentation on the main stage there without any dancers or performers. He was also awarded a second Knight of Illumination Award for Dance for Conceal/Reveal, his and Maliphant’s 20th anniversary collaboration.