Exhibition in Worm, 11 Castle Street, Aberdeen.
11th October- 16th November 2019
Preview evening: Thursday 10th October 18:00 – 20:00

The exhibition “Raik” by Simon Yuill will be a study of the Raik Road area in Aberdeen looking at its development since the end of the Ice Age in terms of what the artist calls a metabolic animism. This looks at the area as a site of metabolic flows and processes that have changed over time. These metabolic processes are ones in which natural resources and human labour and culture act upon one another, seen most typically in relation to changing forms of food production but also in areas such as oil production. These are presented in what he calls an animistic analysis in that this includes non-human entities as actors in these processes. This looks at the area in terms of five evolutionary stages, each condensed around a specific animist figure and metabolic process:
1. Pre-historic: reindeer herding and hunting
2. Pre-modern: salmon fishing
3. Early industrial: herring, in relation the smoke houses which are still there
4. Modern industrial: oil
5. Future: fermentation and urban agriculture

Raik Road is situated on artificial land that was built over an area of estuarine river beds in the late 19th century. The land was built as part of a large scale harbour development that enabled the growth of the herring industry and Raik Road lay at the centre of the fish houses where the herring were filleted, smoked and packed for export. This part of the river had been gifted to the people of Aberdeen along with the Forest of Stocket by Robert the Bruce in 1319. It was an area of small tidal islands known as the Inches around which people had fished for salmon using traditional methods whose Doric names are reflected in the street names such as Raik Road and Stell Road. Archaeological evidence shows that the area has been inhabited by humans since Mesolithic times (at the end of the Ice Age) at which point the river flowed not into the sea but onto a vast area of tundra that stretched almost to Norway. Herds of wild reindeer roamed this landscape and were farmed and hunted in a manner similar to that of the Sámi and other circumpolar peoples. The tundra gradually disappeared as the sea levels rose with the melting of the ice creating the coastline that we see today.

Much of the fishing industry has left the Raik Road area to be replaced by oil industry offices. A few fish merchants remain but none of the characteristic smoke houses are active. Similarly much of the office space built for the oil sector now lies empty. Neither oil nor fishing are expected to grow or survive much longer in their current form. The area has begun to acquire an atmosphere of abandonment but new developments suggest one future direction. A number of small scale food producers have become established in the area and amongst the most interesting are projects based at Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) exploring fermentation and fungal food production. These may form the basis of a future urban agricultural sector in the area.

The exhibition will accompanied by two workshops, one for children and one for adults.

The Raik Walk: Metabolic Evolution is on Saturday October 12th – more details here
 

and the Childrens Animist Workshop is on Thursday October 24th – more details here

 

 

About Simon Yuill

Simon Yuill is an artist and independent researcher. His work is led by research working with specific locations and groups such as crofting communities in the Hebrides, migrant workers in the fishing industry, and the landscape of North-East Scotland. These projects combine several media and processes including film, essays, interviews, custom software and installation. He has exhibited internationally with solo shows at CCA (Glasgow) and the Netherlands Institute for Media Art (Amsterdam), and at festivals such as FutureSonic (Manchester) and the Glasgow International. He has been a resident research fellow at Goldsmiths (London), the Piet Zwart Institute (Rotterdam), and the University of Warwick. He was the inaugural recipient of the Vilem Flusser Theory Award (2008) and in 2007 received a Creative Scotland Award from the Scottish Arts Council.