Performance by Helen Kirwan – Part 1

During her live performance 'Rending the cloth', Kirwan will propose to simply ‘endlessly’ tear cloth with her hands in reference to ancient practices that involved tearing cloth and garments as tangible expressions of grief in the face of death.

Since ancient times, funeral and burial practices in many cultures have involved the practice of tearing cloth and garments as tangible expressions of grief in the face of death. In ancient Greece, Clotho, one of the three fates spun the thread of human fate: her sisters Lachesis dispensed it, and Atropos cut it, thus determining a person’s moment of death.

As an extension of her ongoing enquiry into mourning, loss and temporality, Helen Kirwan presents two live performances on the 24th and 25th of April in association with her immersive three-screen video 'Grief-Work' installation shown in the Personal Structures exhibition at Palazzo Bembo curated by the Global Art Affairs Foundation in parallel with the 59th Biennale Arte 2022.

During her performances, viewers will become immersed in compelling, absorbing experiences as they watch seemingly infinite repetitions of apparently futile repetitive tasks and absurd activities which Kirwan regards as metaphors for processes of mourning and as the medium for the metaphorical construction of memory. Kirwan has taken inspiration from the mourning traditions of ancient Greece and the Middle East and also draws on her own experience of mourning the loss of a loved one, the seemingly endless repetitions being a form of keening and searching which act as a metaphors for wayfinding and navigation in the wilderness of bereavement.

Grief-Work is underpinned by Kirwan’s inquiry into the German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schlegel’s radical concept of the fragment as a dynamic practice which aims at fragmentation for its own sake. Intrinsic to Kirwan’s reiterations is an essential incompletion which is itself the mode of fulfilment. Her work draws also on the Hegelian concept of memory as repetition that constantly reinvents itself as a perma- nently recreating and re-enacting loop.

Grief-Work echoes Kirwan’s performances in earlier projects, especially her film installations Fragment and Trace, (2015), Memory Theatre, (2017) perpetuum mobile (2019), and live performances on beaches in the UK and Cyprus.

Performance by Helen Kirwan – Part 1

During her live performance 'Rending the cloth', Kirwan will propose to simply ‘endlessly’ tear cloth with her hands in reference to ancient practices that involved tearing cloth and garments as tangible expressions of grief in the face of death.

24.04.2022
17.00 — 18.00

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