Andrew Dawson, Absence and Presence

Review in Issue 17-4 | Winter 2005

In a stark white space sits a television, three chairs and a wire figure. The television plays footage of a man – a man we learn is the deceased father of the solo performer. By seeing this man on screen in the midst of a live space, he is at once present yet indefinably detached. Similar snatches of this dead father’s presence, and absence, are woven delicately together as the piece builds slowly.

In the closing section, Dawson unites the forces of absence and presence with unparalleled humanity. Walking towards the wire figure, Dawson gently lifts it up and places it on his shoulders. The care with which he handles it suggest that he could be both cradling the fragile bones of a dying man and also trying to touch that which is now untouchable. Reaching out towards an imagined body of presence – he is attempting to visualise emptiness, give it a form and brush against the boundaries of a void. He is allowing the weight of his grief to melt into lightness. His shadow is cast onto the white screen behind him. Dawson walks away from his shadow. His shadow remains. Every step is a step closer to the point of departure: a point where presence leaves absence, a point where the dead are altogether gone.

Honest, humble and genuinely moving, Dawson’s memorial to his father is a visual poem of what it means to live and to lose: of what it means to be human.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-4
p. 18