Surviving Objects

Teresa Murjas

REF 2014 UoA 35

Supporting website to output 4


A devised research performance based on recorded interviews with Irena Murjas.

Performed 19 - 23 June, 2013, Bulmershe Theatre, Minghella Building, University of Reading.

Teresa Murjas: devisor/director; sound/projection designer/editor; set/costume designer; lighting co-designer.

Chief collaborators: Reina Loader/James Rattee: film-makers; Doug Pye: lighting co-designer. Performers: Rosie Watley, Olivia North (June 2013).

  • Description of project
  • Research Questions and Intentions
  • Key Contextual Information
  • The Devising Process: Practical Methodology and Performance Choices
  • The Devising Process: Ethical and Theoretical Reflections
  • Selected Bibliography

Description of Project

Family photograph from Bwana M’Kubwa

Family photograph from Bwana M'Kubwa (Rhodesia). My mother is on the left.

 

In January 2012 I began work on a devised mixed-media practice-as-research project entitled Surviving Objects. The 90-minute, end-on performance was based on 19 hours of sound-recorded interviews, conducted in Polish, throughout 2012, with my 78-year-old mother. The title of the performance references my mother as survivor of the 1939/40 Soviet deportations of Poles to Siberia, and our conversations centered on a small personal archive from her time in a British-run refugee-camp (1942-48), which was located in Rhodesia (now Zambia).

Photograph from Bwana M’KubwaPhotograph from Bwana M'Kubwa (Rhodesia). My mother is in the centre.


 

In the performance, the soundtrack consisted of edited recordings of my mother's memories of her time in the refugee camp, triggered by specific objects from her archive, which were individually exhibited to the audience by two identically dressed female performers. A split screen at the back of the stage projected magnified images of the objects and a textual English translation of the aural recording.

An image of one of the photographs (above) being held by an actor during the performance.An image of one of the photographs (above) being held by an actor during the performance.

 

The first version of the completed project was presented as a workshop event (5 performances) in December 2012. The second, further developed, version was presented to a wider audience, in June 2013 (6 performances). Both versions were staged as public events in Bulmershe Theatre at the University of Reading, UK. This is a licensed studio theatre seating 100, located in the department's Minghella Building, which is fully equipped for the presentation of mixed-media performances of this nature.

My mother’s case being placed in the light by an actor

My mother's case being placed in the light by an actor during the performance. Macro-lens footage of the outer surface of the case is being projected onto the back wall.

 

This written material has been developed from a paper and workshop about Surviving Objects delivered at the 2013 IFTR Conference in Barcelona, as part of the Practice as Research Working Group.

The following related footage is available:

  • A copy of the dual-image projection and accompanying sound that was used during the performances.

  • A short film that incorporates footage of a post-show discussion with members of the Polish community.

 

My mother’s case being held by an actor during the performance. The macro-lens footage projected onto the back wall shows a close-up of the interior of the case.My mother's case being held by an actor during the performance. The macro-lens footage projected onto the back wall shows a close-up of the interior of the case.

 

Research Questions and Intentions

Surviving Objects builds on - and significantly extends - my previous practice-inflected research. This is represented in my other, publications, for which I also employed methodologies of translation, archival research and performance analysis.[i]

Surviving Objects draws substantially on, and is a contribution to, inter-disciplinary research conducted within the emerging field of Memory Studies, and has an emphasis on gender.

Consequently, the main research questions that Surviving Objects has investigated focus on how the development of inter/trans-medial strategies can assist in:

  • publicly animating a woman 's personal archive;
  • performatively encapsulating recollection;
  • staging translational acts of oral testimony;
  • inter/trans-culturally expressing a marginalised diasporic history.

My mother’s wedding ring being held by an actor during the performance.My mother's wedding ring being held by an actor during the performance.

 

In particular, I was interested in exploring Schlunke's idea of memory as an 'effect' produced through and with materiality.[ii] Accordingly, the performance was intended as a vehicle for the phenomenological investigation of this concept.

Drawing on research into inter/trans-culturality, East-European performance, memory studies, translation and diasporic histories, the performance's trans/inter-medial languages were developed in order to express multiple translational-iterations of my mother's stories. Thus, I sought to explore the subjectivity of a British-Polish woman through the prism of my feminist, second-generation bi-linguality, publicly disseminating the trans-generational contents of our remembering. I was also interested in moments of her resistance, and expressed a curiosity about stories of childhood valour and mischief. In performatively re-constructing my mother-as-archive, and working with the idea that memory is a space that we inhabit, I enabled the first theatrical articulation of what remains a politically-sensitive, fragmented strand of East-Central-European and British-Colonial histories. Surviving Objects explored the possibility of performance as a catalyst to enable a formalized, public "acquisition and transmission of imaginations of the past."[iii]

Importantly, however, there was also a level on which, politically, the performance became an act of mnemonic resistance[iv] to the process of violent Sovietisation that my mother had experienced as a child and which continues to profoundly affect us. This is particularly significant within the current global climate, as expressed by Adler:

Post-Soviet Russia's ambivalent efforts to confront its Stalinist past have generated heated debate about what should be remembered. Official ambivalence is reflected in school history texts that emphasize Soviet achievements, in commissions that gate-keep archives and historical facts, and in monuments and commemorations. In consequence, the surviving victims of Stalinism are insufficiently acknowledged, let alone compensated.[v]

My mother's archive signifies not only what remains of her childhood, but also what her family lost and what, in material and economic terms, we have never regained.

The wedding ring lying in a square of light during the performance.The wedding ring lying in a square of light during the performance.

 

Key Contextual Information

Collective memory […] is always negotiated at the interface between the imposition of a public dominant narrative and the reaction of private individuals. [vi]

My mother is Polish and has lived in the UK since the late 1940s. She was a child refugee during World War II (WWII). The Soviet Army deported her family from South Eastern Poland to forced labour in Uzbekistan in early 1940, in one of several waves of deportation from the so-called Kresy, or Eastern Borderlands, which were established following the end of WWI. The Treaty of Riga in 1921 set Poland's Eastern borders. Citizenship of the Kresy encompassed a range of ethnicities.

Historical Overview and Qualification

I believe it would be useful to provide some key contextual information here that is specifically relevant to my mother's story, since this is not an aspect of WWII that is very well known in the UK, or indeed in Poland. This is information that I provided in the performance programme for my audience. Historically, parts of the 'narrative' have been suppressed in both countries at various points for political reasons. This fact in itself provides an important context for the performance, since it makes my mother's memories and stories particularly challenging to 'locate' both spatially and ideologically - a fact that is not lost on her. So to be clear - the information I have chosen to include in this section is in no way intended to constitute a 'definitive potted history' of Poland during WWII. There are, of course, glaring and vital omissions of which I am deeply aware, and I hope that my broader research, as evidence by my other publications, supports this awareness.

The Soviet Invasion of Poland (1939)

The 'historical narrative strand' that relates particularly to my mother's childhood experiences and memories concerns the fate of the inhabitants of the Kresy. The Soviet Army invaded Poland on the 17th September 1939 and occupied this area, where the population was over 13 million. A policy of Sovietisation was activated, which was intended to liquidate the Polish state. Rigged elections were held and the Eastern Borderlands were annexed to the USSR. Approximately 200,000 Polish POWs were captured by the Soviets, over 21,000 were executed in the Katyń Massacres and most were sent to the gulags. Mass arrests of hundreds of thousands of civil leaders, priests, policemen and judges took place between September 1940 and June 1941. The NKVD executed thousands of prisoners. Between 1 and 2 million Polish citizens were deported to Siberia, including my mother's family. Property, both private and state, was nationalised. Farms were requisitioned and collectivised, and food and basic necessities became scarce as supplies were sent East by the Soviets.

Operation Barbarossa (1941)

On 22nd June 1941 Germany invaded Soviet-occupied territories as part of 'Operation Barbarossa'. Soviet troops suffered terrible defeats until the tide turned in 1943. The war on the Eastern Front continued until 1945. This accounted for the majority of casualties in WWII. The Soviet Union consequently became an ally of Great Britain and thereby of Poland. On the 30th July 1941, the Polish-Soviet Pact granted a so-called Amnesty to the 1-2 million exiled Poles and allowed the formation of a Polish Army in the USSR. My mother's father joined this army and did not see his wife or children again until the late 1940s, when they joined him in the UK. In addition, this 'Amnesty' resulted, in 1942, in the evacuation of approximately 116, 000 Polish military and civilians to Persia (now Iran). This included my mother, with her mother and sister.

Refugee Camps in Africa (1942/3)

Over half of the 33, 000 Polish refugees transferred around the world were transported to Africa in 1942/3. They travelled in British ships to ports in Kenya, Tanganyika and Mozambique. The refugees were dispersed to settlements in the British colonies of Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika, also to South Africa, Northern and Southern Rhodesia. The majority of civilians in Africa were women, children and teenage girls. There were 19 camps in total and my mother, her mother and sister stayed for six years in a camp near a disused copper mine at Bwana M'Kubwa, in Rhodesia - now Zambia. Former POW buildings or purpose-built settlements housed the refugees throughout Africa and British military administrators ran the camps.

Post-war Diaspora

By May 1945 the Polish Armed Forces serving under British command totalled over 194, 000. Additional civilians and dependents totalled over 46, 000. The Yalta and Potsdam conferences in February and July 1945 respectively marked the beginnings of the Polish exile in the West by conceding Poland's Eastern territories to the USSR. Whereas other allied armies anticipated their demobilisation, the future for the Poles seemed far from certain. On the 20th March 1946, British Foreign secretary Ernest Bevin issued a note to the Polish forces strongly recommending that the Poles should return to Poland to help in the country's reconstruction. Around 105, 000 returned to Poland, whereas around 123, 000 stayed in the West. A further 21, 000 or so were recruited from Polish communities around the world and they returned home after demobilisation. In 1947 the British Parliament passed the Polish Resettlement Act. The disbandment of the Polish Armed Forces began and the Polish Resettlement Corps was formed. Around 114, 000 Poles joined the PRC, including my mother's family.

Contents of a Personal Archive

Origins of the Archive

The objects in my mother's home, which form the focal point for the performance, come mostly from her time as a child refugee in Bwana M'Kubwa, the camp in Africa where she stayed for six years. She went beyond its borders only a small handful of times, on monitored school trips, including one to the afore-mentioned disused copper mine, which the children viewed from a safe distance, and one to the cinema in nearby Ndola, where they were shown a documentary newsreel of soldiers in battle.

The Objects

The objects in question are: a small decorative tea tin from Uzbekistan; a handkerchief embroidered in Africa by my grandmother; a hand-carved elephant and antelope which my grandmother got in exchange for a child's dress before they left Africa; a small child's suitcase in which my mother carried her school books; some buttons and a sleeve from clothing donated to the camps by American citizens; a wedding ring that replaced the one my grandmother bartered for food in Siberia, which was brought to the camp secretly from the Belgian Congo; five posed family photographs from the camp, which cost fifty pence each to take and two Polish school books - one about Polish grammar and the other about good conduct.

All these objects are handled and presented during the live performance of Surviving Objects, and a few, which have been lost, but which were very significant to my mother, are also referenced. These are: the soap she was given as she left the Soviet Union, in a little bag; a small 'piano' she made in Bwana M'Kubwa using a piece of soft wood and two razor blades snapped in half and a tiny clay doll that she created and kept in a matchbox lined with bedclothes made from ripped-up sanitary towels.

Memorialisation and the Polish Diaspora

Within the diasporic Polish community setting where I grew up, in the UK, the collective commemoration of wartime experience has tended to be strongly focused on military and patriarchal matters. The stories of women and children - particularly of child refugees - still do not feature as part of enactments of cultural memory. Additionally, I have never come across my mother's story represented from a woman or child's perspective in any context within UK or Polish discourses relating to the war, or discussions about post-war diasporic experience. The British-run refugee camps in Africa seem to be a particularly 'obscure/d' aspect of WWII.

My personal awareness of this subject-matter and its marginalisation gave rise to Surviving Objects as a practice-based research project, two of my intentions being

(i) to develop a form and (ii) to locate a public space for the expression of what had endured for so many years as 'domestic narratives' within my family home. The impulse came both from a sense of my mother's advancing age and a curiosity about the nature of my relationship with her, seen in light of her early formative and traumatic experiences.

The Devising Process: Practical Methodology & Performance Choices

  • (Auto) Biographical Basis and Use of Recorded interviews

  • Spatial Configuration

  • Use of Mixed Media

  • Performance Style

(Auto) Biographical Basis and Use of Recorded Interviews

"The life story interview is a highly specific genre often used in women's history because it can voice what is generally hidden in official histories, especially everyday knowledge and experiences forgotten by 'official' histories of international relations, wars and treaties."[vii]

My aim in conducting the interviews with my mother was, firstly, to create an archive of stories and, secondly, to explore the "theoretical implications of two main demands of collective memory: the truth about history, and autonomy in the practice of remembering and forgetting in order to create people's own culture of relatedness."[viii]

Throughout these conversations with my mother, I also became interested in the "role played by individual emotions in generating and shaping collective emotion and affects, thereby helping to produce new forms of and antagonism and solidarity within memorial cultures."[ix] As such, the emotional content of both our voices, their generationally-inflected timbres and interactions, became key to establishing a tone for the performance.

I subsequently edited these interviews to form episodic narrative-fragments, excising my own voice save for wordless interjections. Through the re-connected fragments I wished to highlight both voices' materiality, and thus form the performance's sonically non-continuous soundscape. Each fragment addressed an 'everyday' object from my mother's archive, investigating its mnemonic potency in relation to personal narrative loss/recovery, and problematising notions of trans-personal, collective memorialisation. This process took "the interviewer and the interviewee beyond an exclusively linguistic understanding of memory."[x]

Spatial Configuration

In formulating the spatiality of Surviving Objects, I was interested in how "re-enactments of the past through performances of memory both in and with visual media […] may embody, express, work through and even unpick interconnectedness between the private, the public and the personal."[xi]

Surviving Objects end-on studio performance space

Figure 1

 

Figure 1 shows the end-on studio performance space. The photograph illustrates the spatial relationship between the two non-speaking actors (who were cued through IEM) and the dual-image video projection of macro-lens footage on the back wall. Two projectors were used, from the rig above the audience, and synchronized through a computer programme called QLab. The pre-recorded projection shaped the durational aspects of the performance. The black box placed centre stage acted as a repository for objects from my mother's personal archive (excepting the photos, which the actor SL had in her skirt pocket). Here, the actor DSR is shown holding an object (a tin) that she has retrieved from the box. The video footage projected on the back wall shows magnified imagery of the surface of the object she is holding.

Surviving Objects square of light

Figure 2 

 

Figure 2 shows a moment from the performance when an object (the tin) has been placed in a square of light that reflects the shape of the projected imagery USL and USR. The white floor-marking slightly US of the light is the pre-determined spot from which the actor places the tin. Each object taken from within the box has a marked spot from which it is placed, and a dedicated light into which it is placed. By the end of the performance, all the objects from the personal archive have been taken from the black box located centre stage, exhibited to the audience from within the performance space (see Figure 3) and publicly placed on the floor of the studio space. The actors begin and end the performance sitting side by side on the black bench, situated US of the box, with their backs to the audience. At these times, the title of the performance is projected onto the back wall - the word Surviving on the left, and the word Objects on the right. Only at the end of the performance, when they are finally seated side by side on the bench, do the actors turn their heads to look directly at each other (see Figure 4).

Surviving Objects - object exhibited to the audience

Figure 3

 

Surviving Objects - example of performance styleFigure 4

Use of Mixed Media

In establishing a performance that combined media, I sought to explore the limits of materiality, memory and tactility. Surviving Objects' trans/inter-mediality resided in its self-reflexive weaving of formal conventions associated with theatrical, cinematic, museum and gallery spaces; it channeled oral-testimony through the live/mediated exhibition of personal objects/memories. My aim was to create an environment in which the Kantorian 'live' presence of actors/objects existed in ritualised tension with the hapticity of macro-lens, large-scale video-projections of those objects. The macro-lens was used reflexively as a tool of phenomenological enquiry, with the aim of producing the paradoxical effect of both scrutinizing the objects, and simultaneously highlighting their inscrutability. Projections were 'overlaid' by textual-translation, which operated visually 'centre-screen', disrupting sub/sur-titling conventions, as seen in Figures 5 and 6. This represented my translation of my mother's stories, which could be heard emanating - in the forms of the edited interviews - from speakers located at the back of the audience space. On-screen text was also used to number, in both the LH and RH projection, each of the 14 performance episodes.

Surviving Objects - Projections overlaid by textual-translation

Figure 5

 

Surviving Objects - Projections overlaid by textual-translation

Figure 6

 

These projection strategies drew on cultural analogies of film and memory, and explored these in relation to conventions of liveness, presence, embodiment, temporality and spatiality in theatrical performance. Within the context of a specific 'life story interview', particularly through the exploration of effects of scale and focus within the performance's multiple channels of communication, my aim was to systematically engage the audience in reflection about the sensations of inter-generational trauma and processes of affective positioning in relation to it. I was also interested in investigating the role of nostalgia - which my mother clearly feels for her time in the refugee camp - in relation to trauma and identity, and this is evident through my choice of narrative focus within the editing of the interviews.

Performance Style

The performance relied very much on the precise synchronization of recorded sound, lighting, projection, and live performance effects. The rhythms of the performance itself were slow and measured and its structure was governed by the dual image video projection. I worked with the actors to achieve qualities of concentration and precision in performance, which I believe are captured effectively in Figures 7 and 8. The technical activity 'around' the performance that was involved in achieving this somewhat Beckettian dynamic was fairly frenetic - the actors wore clearly visible IEM in order to be able to respond to and create the necessary performance rhythms, evoking both the elusive possibility of and struggle for inter-medial synchronicity. Meanwhile, there was intense labour and concentration up in the box, as technicians cued actors' movements down to the exact second, in order to coincide with the edited macro-lens video footage.

Surviving Objects - example of performance styleSurviving Objects - example of performance style

Figures 7 and 8

 

The Devising Process: Ethical and Theoretical Reflections

Throughout the devising process, a number of issues were particularly significant, and I want to draw out six of these and reference them in a little more detail, since they reflect directly on the ways in which the performance attempted to engage with the research questions and conceptual frameworks outlined above.

1. What my mother has been willing to talk about and her ethical position.

"… the essential value of remembering at a later age […] consists not in reviving the past as it 'really' happened but in re-evaluating it."[xii]

Negotiating the Interview Process

My mother did not want to discuss the Soviet deportation in any significant detail and when we tried to, she tended to re-traumatise herself, which made the interview process very difficult for both of us. She primarily wanted to discuss the six years she spent in the refugee camp in Africa, when she was safe, happy and her existence was clearly boundaried. Nevertheless, as one would perhaps expect, fragments of narrative relating to the deportations, forced labour and extreme childhood trauma seep into her discussion of the journey from Siberia to Persia, and subsequently to Africa. In all, I collected around nineteen hours of recorded footage of conversations with my mother.

My Mother's Voice in Performance

The final performance lasted one hour and twenty minutes. It was structured around 14 stories relating to 14 individual objects or object groupings. These stories consisted of edited conversations with my mother, from which my own voice had been meticulously excised, with only a few slight verbal interjections remaining. During our conversations, my mother spoke to me in Polish and during the performance, her voice emanated from speakers placed behind the audience, who sat in a raked, end-on configuration within a studio space. The speakers were placed under the back rows of seating and up above the back row of the audience, suspended from the rig, at times creating the impression that my mother was present at the rear of the auditorium. Sound also periodically reverberated through the fabric of the actual audience seating, depending on volume, creating a kind of intimacy, and the locations in which the various interviews with my mother took place were highly significant, as they could be clearly discerned within the soundscape. The editing of these interviews was also clearly sonically discernible. My mother was consulted about this editing process and was happy with my selections. However, after witnessing the first performance, she was adamant that she 'talked far too much' and wanted me to edit further, in case people 'were bored'. This is interesting, given that the soundscape was relatively varied and did contain long periods when her voice could not be heard, and when there was only ambient sound. In the end, I refused.

2. The signalling of my own presence within the theatrical event.

I wanted to find a way of referencing my own presence as interviewer, editor and daughter within the performance in order to underline its partiality. The performance attempts to assert its subjective position in order to underline the fallibility of memory alongside its 'integrity' as a sort of 'repository' for lived, embodied experience. By making the structural and editing processes of the filmic, sonic and live performance visible, I introduced elements of reflexivity, and indeed hiatus, which, I hoped, would assist in the development of a suitably un-sentimental performance style, that would in turn express my relationship with my mother, and her somewhat pragmatic approach to how she chooses to remember her past.

3. How psychoanalytic theory can assist in forming the basis for a mode of theatrical expression/convention for this auto/biographical material, relating as it does to my mother's childhood development and also my relationship with her.

Of particular interest were several of Freud's uncanny tropes: inanimate objects mistaken as animate; animate beings behaving as if inanimate or mechanical; the double; coincidences or repetitions; an all-controlling malignant genius; confusions between reality and imagination.[xiii] I was also interested in concepts connected with so-called Object Relations, a series of interconnected theoretical perspectives and therapeutic approaches that have developed from Freud's analytical work on the family and childhood development.[xiv] Freud's uncanny tropes manifested themselves within the performance in a number of ways.

Live actors who were costumed to look like doubles (enacting, for example, the process of psychic 'splitting' associated with trauma and the concept of inter-generational trauma) handled and presented the live 'real' objects as part of the performance. The actors' appearance echoed - through costume - how my mother looks in the photographs from Bwana M'Kubwa that featured during the performance. Doubling and splitting were key themes in terms of the projection also, as is evident from the photographic imagery above. The actors had an extremely restrained, stylized and concentrated bodily presence, and had fixed ways of moving and walking, as well as fixed places to stand, marked, indeed, by white squares on the floor. They handled, animated and presented the everyday objects from my mother's home to the audience, and these objects were in turn both symbolically and literally 'elevated' and 'brought to earth' or 'degraded'. For example, each object was lit by its own dedicated light source up on the rig, which projected a square shaped pool of light onto the floor, as in Figure 9. This shape aesthetically echoed the angularity of the projected material on the back wall. These lights were activated in order to illuminate the objects at specific moments, when they were held aloft by an actor. However, the objects were subsequently placed on the floor within that same square of light, where they remained until the end of the performance, as evoked in Figure 10. At that point, all the objects had been removed from the central black box, which is visible in the photographs, and were precisely placed on the ground, in accordance with a mapping logic that was integral to the performance's subjective iconography; an imaginary 'grid' echoing the geography of the refugee camp.

Surviving Objects - object in light sourceFigure 9

 

Surviving Objects - objects at the end of the performanceFigure 10

 

4. How theoretical concerns relating to both documentary and commemorative theatrical and filmic practices can be engaged through the performance.

This relates to the holding in balance of my materialist, psychoanalytical and feministic concerns. The materiality of the objects is of key importance to me. It could be argued that in many ways, their materiality is highlighted by the haptic qualities of the macro-lens film footage, as suggested by Figure 11. The intensity of focus that is achieved by the projection as it rhythmically scours and scans the surfaces of the objects, evoking intimate geographies, moving in and out of focus, and de-familiarising them, is countered in a very sobering way by the smallness and - arguably - 'ordinariness' of the objects held by the actors. The interplay of closeness and distance, and the various 'degrees of scale' that are created by varied forms of live and mediated presence, acts both as an invitation to touch the objects, and perhaps as a warning to remain at arm's length. Only at the end of one particular performance did the audience enter the performance space in order to walk around the objects as though they were at an exhibition. However, no-one did touch.

Surviving Objects - macro-lens film footageFigure 11

 

5. How my practice engages with equivalent modes of storytelling, and philosophical and ethical concerns, as developed specifically in performance and filmic practices that I consider to have been significant for the development of Surviving Objects.

I refer particularly to the work of Tadeusz Kantor, Tadeusz Słobodzianek and Krzysztof Kieślowski. All these practitioners use the schoolroom as a trope for exploring ideas around childhood development, collective memory, national trauma, Holocaust representation and gender identity. I am thinking of course of Kantor's mannequins and his work on Umarła Klasa [Dead Class] (1975), Słobodzianek's Nasza Klasa [Our Class] (2009), which was first staged in English translation at the National Theatre in London, and Kieślowski's film Podwójne życie Weroniki [The Double Life of Veronique] (1991), which draws on Freudian and Jungian tropes of doubling and synchronicity.[xv] These concepts and practices were particularly significant to the project, since many of my mother's reflections focus on ideas of school attendance and the process of learning. With Rasmussen I was therefore interested in the fact that "the shifting objects of materiality in personal and generational school memories connect to material as well as sensuous experiences of everyday school life and its complex processes of learning."[xvi]

6. How to actively stage and engage theatrically, within a multi-media performance setting, with the process of translation.

The process of translation is indeed central to the performance, since it reflects key aspects of how my mother and I communicate. The actors themselves never speak throughout the performance - the IEM clearly signals that their particular focus is on listening and they do not have attached microphones, for example. The mediated soundscape of my mother's Polish-speaking voice emanates from speakers behind the audience. My English translation of my mother's spoken words appears, in the form of text added at a later stage of the film editing process, over and across the projected macro lens imagery. I wouldn't necessarily call these lines of text either sur- or sub-titles. However, their on-screen appearance corresponds temporally and semantically with the rhythms of my mother's mediated Polish storytelling voice and at the same time is intended to reference/highlight my own editorial and translatorial choices. Significantly, in relation to this point, my mother's direct references to me, by name, throughout the recorded conversations, have been retained in a number of key places within the soundscape. In terms of the English translation of these conversations, and specifically my mother's stories, all full stops and capital letters - except for those relating to proper nouns - have been omitted from the text (Figure 12). Arguably, this evokes a somewhat poetic approach to the filmic representation of a mediated translation process within a live performance setting.
 

Surviving Objects - English translation of conversationFigure 12 

 


References

[i] Teresa Murjas, The Morality of Mrs. Dulska (Bristol: Intellect, 2005); Teresa Murjas, Zapolska's Woman: Three Plays (Bristol/Chicago: Intellect, 2009); Teresa Murjas, 'I suggest a night at the theatre, Mr. Cameron: Memory, History and Responsibility in Tadeusz Słobodzianek's Our Class (2009)', Contemporary Theatre Review, 21:4, 2011, pp. 487 - 510; Teresa Murjas, Invisible Country: Four Polish Plays (Bristol/Chicago: Intellect, 2013).

[ii] Katrin Schlunke, 'Memory and materiality', Memory Studies, 6, 2013, pp. 253-261.

[iii] Harald Welzer, 'Re-narrations: How pasts change in conversational remembering', Memory Studies, 3, 2010, pp. 5-17.

[iv] Lorraine Ryan, 'Memory, power and resistance: The anatomy of a tripartite

relationship', Memory Studies, 4, 2011, pp. 154-169.

[v] Nanci Adler, 'Reconciliation with - or rehabilitation of - the Soviet past?' Memory Studies, 5, 2012, pp. 327-338.

[vi] Ryan, 'Memory, power and resistance: The anatomy of a tripartite

relationship', pp. 154-169.

[vii] Constance Goh and Bernard McGuirk (eds.) Happiness and Post-Conflict,

(Nottingham: CCCP, 2007), p. 191.

[viii] Ana Margarita Ramos, 'The good memory of this land': Reflections on the processes of memory and forgetting', Memory Studies, 3, 2010, pp. 55-72.

[ix] Jill Stockwell, 'Women's affective memories of trauma and the transmission of emotional knowledge in Argentina', Memory Studies, 4, 2011, pp. 73-82.

[x] Lisa Rosén Rasmussen, 'Touching materiality: Presenting the past of everyday school life', Memory Studies, 5, 2012, pp. 114-130.

[xi] Annette Kuhn, 'Memory texts and memory work: Performances of memory in and with visual media', Memory Studies, 3, 2010, pp. 298-313.

[xii] Elena Bendien, 'Remembering (in) the past perfect: Ethical shifts in times', Memory Studies, 5, 2012, pp. 445-461, first published on March 15, 2012.

[xiii] Sigmund Freud, trans. Douglas McKintock, The Uncanny, London: Penguin, 2003.

[xiv] Lavinia Gomez, An Introduction to Object Relations, New York: NYUP, 1997.

[xv] Tadeusz Kantor (dir.), Umarła Klasa [Dead Class] (Kraków, 1975); Krzysztof Kieślowski (dir.), The Double Life of Véronique, (Poland/France, 1991); Bijan Sheibani (dir.), Tadeusz Słobodzianek's Nasza Klasa [Our Class] (trans. Ryan Craig), (London, 2012).

[xvi] Rasmussen, Lisa Rosén, 'Touching materiality: Presenting the past of everyday school life', Memory Studies, 5, 2012, pp. 114-130.