Janus Fortress: Folkestone
Co-commissioned for Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021 by Creative Folkestone and England's Creative Coast.
Janus’ Fortress: Folkestone is a monumental sculptural head with two faces, representing Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who was often associated with thresholds – and so also with a present poised between the past and the future.
The sculpture is located high up on the East Cliff, overlooking Folkestone’s harbour, and with its two faces is able to look both towards the European mainland and towards England, connecting them, as Folkestone has always done whether as a fortress or a port. It is made of chalk and plaster, and will gradually erode and disintegrate. The artist’s intention was to make a kind of anti-monument, imposing in scale but ephemeral and vulnerable. Its disintegration also mirrors (and reflects on) the gradual erosion of the chalk cliffs and coastline. The white cliffs of Dover are sometimes referred to as the fortress walls of England.
Pilar Quinteros works across the media of drawing, sculpture, performance, and video, often in an ephemeral way, designing performance works directly with people gathered together for an event – she is concerned with public space, and in changing perceptions of public spaces through occupying and animating them. Her art is often intentionally fragile, sometimes made from recycled materials, so for her the planned disintegration of this sculpture is an important part of its presence.
This artwork originated in conversations she had during her research visit to Folkstone, and through learning about its history as remembered by the people of the town. She noticed the prevalence of military memorials, and the conception of the town as a fortress ringed around with Martello Towers. But it was the cliffs and their disintegration that struck her: these wonderful defensive barriers were also ephemeral.
At the end of the Triennial, on 2 November 2021, whatever remains of Janus Fortress: Folkestone will be celebrated by a public procession.
Film by Oliver Parkin. Drone footage by Tom Bishop Photography
Janus Fortress: Folkestone is co-commissioned by Creative Folkestone Triennial and England’s Creative Coast, a landmark partnership project connecting the landscape and arts organisations across the South East coast.
The artwork forms part of England’s Creative Coast Waterfronts, May – November 2020, an exhibition of seven new artworks, and the world’s first Art GeoTour, connecting and celebrating the distinctive, creative coastline of Essex, Kent and East Sussex.