Cicada exuvia and other residual feelings.

by Bob Gelsthorpe

Wandering around Venice, looking for images and looking for sounds.


The Cicada around Giardini, S. Elena and Lido are almost deafening in places. There are hundreds of different types of Cicada, a few more common genus and species can be identified in the videos on the fan forum:

I have captured the sounds of them, and have wondered how long they 'sing' for until they mate and die. There are many species of cicada that use predator satiation as an evolutionary tactic, which means that all predators of the Cicada eat so many that they cannot eat any more. Given that millions upon millions of cicada hatch only once every 17 years, the Magicicada floods its predators bellies as a way of ensuring survival. I will not attempt it at this point, but somewhere within this there is a metaphor about large biennales, local economies and divisions of labour.

The hatched adult Cicada here are well camouflaged, matte, mottled with grey and light brown, blending in with the ruffled bark of the trees around S. Elena, yet its shell (exuvia) that the adult Cicada emerges from has a ghostly quality, still attached to the trees. There are hundreds of these small shells, I film them, and pry one off the tree with a tripod leg. I intend to come back with tuppaware to collect a number of them for Sera.


Phil is visiting from Cardiff. He is an exceptionally interesting artist, researcher and friend.

When I met him on Fondamenta Nova, he saw my denim Wales in Venice bag and mentioned that he still had one of the t-shirts that James made for a tactileBOSCH show back in the day. He can't remember the exact year of it, but it was before I had moved to Cardiff. He said that he had kept it in very good condition, having only worn it once. He regretted not bringing it along, it would have made a great image to use for social media, and I feel kind of dirty that one of the first things that I thought about was marketing. But then I also think about the posters, billboards and newspaper advertisements that the work has also been presented in, thinking about my own approaches to presenting work across different mediums.

We talk a lot about Kim, the last time Phil was in Venice was with Kim, so this visit is somewhat bittersweet. I like thinking about Kim as a mobius strip: The Kim Fielding Award, James using his 'Shadow Boxer' and 'Grinding Heads' pieces in What weakens the flesh is the flesh itself (2017), the fraternity of tactileBOSCH, friends all over the globe - a mobius strip.


Monday, Invigilators day off.

Court of Redonda, Scotland, Ireland invigilators and myself go to Padua, to see Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel, and Saint Anthony of Padua's Basillica, where three relics of his body: the vocal chords, the tongue and the jawbone, are consecrated.

I do not follow a faith, but seeing these items makes me fetishise the idea of having a faith. How affirming it would be to believe in something bigger than yourself, but my heart is simply not there. Neither of my parents are religious, and I associate visiting Church with death, so there has never been any attraction. One of my favourite poets, Anis Mojgani follows the Bahai faith, he writes with such a love, passion and conviction drawn from his faith, but I know that taking God into your heart is not a vocational affair.