The Ascent of Woman (2018) is a playful take on the title of a 1972 publication by Elaine Morgan entitled ‘The Descent of Woman’ which proposes the aquatic ape theory of evolution. I remember reading the book in the early 1980s and it was from these memories that I constructed this film, which seeks to show that moment when ‘woman’ moves from a wet environment onto dry land for the first time.
It was created during a residency entitled ‘Ephemeral River’ hosted by GNAP (Global Nomadic Art Project) at Dartington, for which I was one of 12 selected artists, and is included in a publication of the same name.
There is no speech, but plenty of grunting, whispers and whines, communicating a range of emotions and intentions as the heavy form attempts to heave herself onto land. The protagonist is not communicating with another of the same species, so much as vocalising her experience in the present moment. The eavesdropping viewer cannot mistake or misinterpret what is being communicated.