In 2015 we were commissioned to make a new piece of work for the Anti Festival of Live Art in Kuopio, Finland. The theme that year was around connecting to sports and the marathon that is important to that small city. We regularly have marathons and half-marathons passing by our house in Balsall Heath and have been interested in what happens to people in the process (whilst not being tempted to try it ourselves). We’d noticed that at the finish line people by this time have often entered a strange space, where they are almost untouchable and in a zone very removed from normal consciousness and we wanted to investigate this altered state.
So we arrived at ‘Coming Back’. We interviewed a number of marathon runners about their experience and started to note down how and why they put themselves through what seems like such an ordeal for those outside the initiated. We then arranged for them to run a training marathon and to stop at an exact point at the end where we would film them as they ‘came back to themselves’. We would film them for a full 8 minutes each, which resulted in a 40 minute film installation, displayed life-sized and portrait in the centre of the town square during the festival. The piece was very intense to watch as you really got to see these people returning from a space which few of us ever visit.