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Funerals for the Ocean

artists
Vanessa Anspaugh
award
$5000 Awarded

Funerals for The Ocean is a participation, performance series inspired by climate activist happenings addressing the global climate crisis, rising sea levels, and a rapidly dying oceanic ecosystem. Ritualistic gestures and choreographies of memorial and gratitude are intended to be felt and witnessed as we explore the material of salt; that which remains when ocean water evaporates. In Funerals for the Ocean, audience participants, alongside hidden plant performers are quietly guided to enact/perform a variety of carefully choreographed rituals intended to provide space and bodily gestures for grieving what we have lost while also paying homage to what has been.

Another new element of this work is to include an original and live soundscore by award-winning and local sound designer Ryan MacDonald. His sound design will consist of an arrangement of melodic recorded instruments, combined with live sound feedback. MacDonald would be at each performance responding to the live moment with microphones, amps and loop pedals while running sound from an assortment of battery-operated speakers, on-site.

The final new element will be choreographing a 15-20 minute dance work with performers, Allie James, and Kristen Stake. This follows collective activities where the audience reads text aloud together (as if in a place of worship), then they slowly walk in a procession with salt in their hands (gathered from a salt sculpture/pyramid) and eventually come to stillness to pass the salt down into a single vessel, in a slow-hand relay. Their hands are ritually washed of the salt as they follow a leader into forming a large circle with their bodies. At this point, these “hidden dancers” (planted in the audience) would emerge from the circle to perform a quiet and rigorous, repetitive quartet, moving in precise aquatic unison; at first quietly and eventually ferociously as the audience joins them in the final gestures of mourning to the end of the piece.

When we face the imminent loss of a person or animal that we have loved, we mourn, we cry, we grieve. Simultaneous to this experience of loss, we also take time to reflect with gratitude on the life that has lived; the beauty, love, inspiration, humor, etc. that life has graced us with. Anspaugh am proposing the same kind of frame around our sick and dying, but still living ocean. Can we simultaneously grieve while also paying a celebratory homage to the magnificence of the ocean’s life-giving force?

Website:
Vanessa Anspaugh

Instagram:
@vanessaanspaugh

Select press on Anspaugh's work: Press

This Friday, January 31st! Join us for the opening of Both Players Move with Jessica Hankey and Erin Johnson, two artists who blend theatricality and sight-specific video to blur the boundaries between individual lives and sociopolitical realities. 5:30-7p.