Paul Rooney

Title: Dust
Duration: 9:00
Format: Sound work with video
Words: written by Paul Rooney, incorporating interviews with Karen Dale, Audrey Preston and Stella Guarini, room attendants of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Pier Head, Liverpool
and with acknowledgements to Near to Revolution: the Liverpool General Transport Strike of 1911, Eric Taplin; The Threpenny Opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill; Voyage of the Damned, Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts; The Rings of Saturn, WG Sebald; Human Cargo, Caroline Moorhead
Music: composed by
Voices: Paula Berry, Marissa Dunlop, Melody Jones
Music performed by: Byron Parish, violin; Adrian Turner, Viola; Catherine Ardagh-Walter, cello; Oliver Jackson, piano
Language: English
Subtitles: without subtitles
Production date: 2006
Production country: England UK
Thanks: Steven Bode, Nina Ernst, Oliver Jackson, Greg Arrowsmaith, Bevis Bowden, The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Liverpool, Bank Lines and Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd, Samantha Brewer, all the crew and passengers of the freighter MV Tikiebank, Master John Gunson,2nd Officer Dennis Levins, Purser David Ball, John Withnall at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool, Melody Jones, Mike Thacker, Jackie Kerr
Commissioned by: Film & Video Umbrella as part of the Single Shot project Special thanks to Paula Berry


Sound work with video, stereo, 9 mins, 2006

The partly sung, partly spoken female monologue that leads this sound piece is a verbal summary, from the point of view of a hotel maid, of the Brecht-Weill song ‘Pirate Jenny’, which is about a maid who looks out of her hotel window and imagines a ship that appears in the harbour, a ship that has come to avenge her suffering. The maid’s description of her song is, in turn, imaginatively expanded to incorporate various other historical moments involving ships that remain offshore, including the Norwegian container ship Tampa, which, when carrying Afghan refugees in 2001, was not allowed to land at the Australian territory of Christmas Island in 2001. A single unedited video shot of the view walking the top deck of a freighter, taking in the deck, the sea and the land in the far distance, accompanies the sound. The shot moves at walking pace round and round the deck above the bridge (the deck known as the monkey island), and evokes the view of a passenger seeking refuge who is tantalisingly close to a new territory, but remains distant from safety.

Originally commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella as part of the Single Shot project. Special thanks to Paula Berry.

Paul Rooney was born in Liverpool in 1967 and was trained at Edinburgh College of Art. From 1998 to 2000 he released three CD music albums as the band ‘Rooney’, featuring in John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1998, as well as recording a session for the show a year later. Since then he has continued to make sound, video and text works as commissions or during residencies at places such as Dundee Contemporary Arts/University of Dundee VRC; Proyecto Batiscafo, Cuba; Tate Liverpool; and Oxford University/Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.

Rooney’s work was included in British Art Show 6 which toured around the UK in 2005-2006, and he has shown in exhibitions and screenings at Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery, and the ICA, London; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville; and Tate Liverpool. Work by Rooney has been broadcast on BBC Radios 1, 3, 6 Music, Cymru and Scotland, whilst text works have been published by Serpent’s Tail and Whitechapel Gallery/MIT Press. A collection of his short fiction was published by Akerman Daly/Aye Aye Books in 2012.

Other projects include a solo exhibition at Matt’s Gallery, London; a site-specific sound ‘lecture’ for Leeds Metropolitan University and Sound and Music; and a sound-blog for University of Cambridge Museums. Paul was the winner of the second Northern Art Prize in 2008.


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