bind & stand performance 1
QUEENSTOWN HERITAGE AND ARTS FESTIVAL 2012: Centenary of the North Mt Lyell Mine Disaster
Copper and nostalgia food: the theme for this performance delves the socio-economic realties of life for people in the remote mining community of Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania in 1912. For this I made Wallaby Stew, for many at the time Wallaby was a conveniant but undesirable (even shameful) part of the staple diet in lieu of access to expensive beef or mutton, in contrast with Wallaby’s status today as a gourmet game meat.
The copper coloured masks worn by audience participants in this interactive performance are a metaphor for conductivity, a strategy to unify people undertaking tasks at various stages around the U shaped ‘kitchen’ installation. Each person asked two questions to the person directly behind; Who are you? and, Where are you from? writing the answers on a paper cup and filling it with stew before leaving it on the table for that person to collect after completing the same task for the person behind them. After eating the stew in a communal area, participants were asked to place their empty cup on a grided peg board before exiting the tent that was located on the Cenotaph green in the town centre. The identity cups were a direct reference to identification tags miners hang on a grided board before decending into the copper, silver and gold mine, the primary industry then as now for Queenstown. At the same time a reference to the list of those who died in the 1912 Mt Lyell mine disaster, and their diverse places of origin.
This series of pop-up style performances undertaken in three stages over three days explored the complex interplay between nostalgia, eating and community. Each one consists of a past, present or possible future aspect of community life through food habits; the relationships food has with identity, cultural knowledge, ritual and ceremony that activates food as a medium for the enduring act of remembering. They manifest as demountable kitchens in unexpected locations, highlighting relationships between the social and industrial landscape. The audience is activated as part of the work and experiences food as multi-sensory matter – be it ‘1912’ comfort food for remembrance of the mine disaster (performance 1), desire food for pleasure (performance 2), or conceptual food for thought (performance 3).