Vigil was an artwork conceived by Alex Hartley for the Folkestone Triennial 2014. The theme for this Triennial was ‘Lookout’.
Hartley’s encampment was attached to the outside of the 13th floor of the iconic Grand Burstin Hotel.
A single occupant inhabited the ledges for the nine weeks of the exhibition, carrying out a vigil. Watching over the panoramic view of the town, harbour, the white cliffs and the sea and sky stretching from Dover to Dungeness, across the channel to France.
An hourly log was recorded of everything visible, including the weather, the state of the sea and tide, a tally of the number of people and their activities. Observations were taken, both notable and mundane.
Built from climber’s portaledges – (small lightweight platforms that climbers use on multi-day expeditions on the world’s big-wall climbs) – the artwork references hermit’s retreats and climber’s encampments as well as sites and camps of protest. The work seeks to incorporate the built environment within the wider landscape, turning its host building into a sheer cliff and Vigil itself into a parasitic structure, an eyrie for contemplation and observation.
13 volunteers separately helped carry out the lone vigil, 127ft above sea level. 65 days and nights of knowing the land and sea, an island removed from time. Watching tide and in weather.