On the 11th November 2011, Platt Chapel was host to ‘In Remembrance’, a Performance Art event commemorating the fallen soldiers from not only both world wars, but also those soldiers who have served more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. The event was curated and produced by Michael Mayhew, an artist who has been creating provocative and moving work for over twenty years.
Performance Art involves four key elements: time, space, the performer or presence of the performer in some medium, and the relationship between performer and audience. It aims to engage the audience by capturing a particular moment in time and conveying the feelings or ideas of the performer and performance to the spectator.
The eleven hours of performance were heavily documented using writings, drawings, photography and video. This served not only as a memory resource but also for the creation of ‘In Loving Memory’: a sound and visual installation, a wake, a celebration of past events and past lives embodied as performance.
Performances included that from Nicola Canavan, whose performance named ‘When river runs into Sea,’ explored love, ritual, borders, physical limitations and loss. Canavan connected with audiences by using a small space, set out like a room; on the walls, pieces of paper filled with words written in blood and a desk also holding these pieces of paper, and filled with objects including needles and scissors. The artist herself however was the focal point, sat on a chair in the middle, dressed in white, scrubbing blood from a silken cloth. Canavan both captivated and mesmerized audiences with such a thought provoking act.
Other acts included work from Martin O’Brien, Leo Devlin, Lisa Newman, Alistair MacLennan and Charlottle Bean, and Nina Whiteman who gave a performance named ‘My Mother’s Clothes.’ This involved the artist using a number of her mother’s items of clothing to tell the story of the relationship between mother and daughter, using actions yet minimal sound and speech.
This event allowed the work of many artists to come together, in a thought provoking way, to produce performances which created and channeled ideas of memory and loss to the audience. Fitting for not only a day of remembrance, but as a way of reflecting on the beauty and complexity of memory.