that moment in a place

What are eclogues?

Paralleling major works is a restless urge to document small happenings in the world around her. Phillips borrows the term ‘eclogue’ to describe these solitary events. Using walking she catalogues environmental experiences through minimal interventions. In the photographs produced tiny evanescent gestures are read again, alerting us to the unexpected vitality of the world. The spontaneous observations and engagements with ‘wild life’ lead us to question the divisions separating art from the abundant sufficiency of nonhuman worlds.

Extract from Objects in the Field (1999)

I had thought through using the term eclogue quite early on in my career, as a logical description for the kind of work I seemed to be gravitating towards. Eclogue was the word before ecology in the dictionary. There was a short definition of what it was. It implied an aesthetic engagement with a landscape. Something about it too made it feel appropriate for describing performative events. Some years later I found an ad in an art magazine for a mid-career American artist who was doing actions in the environment. Black and white Image…ECLOGUE (big letters)…Man stands gesturing in creek…: same process-engagement with environment! For some strange reason I didn’t photocopy the page or write down the details, and I have never found it again. Weird.

Phillips, P. (1999). Objects in the field. (Master of Fine Arts). University of London, London.

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