Fragments and Monuments, Wollstonecraft Live!

Review in Issue 18-1 | Spring 2006

Under the direction of Anna Birch, Fragments and Monuments gave a site-specific multimedia presentation of the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97). Two physical locations were used: the Unitarian Church of Newington Green, a fantastic example of 18th-century Utilitarian architecture, and across the boy racetrack road to the Newington Green central reservation. The body and spirit of Wollstonecraft was illuminated using three ethnically diverse actresses, Siddiqua Akhtar, Ros Philips and Katherine Vernez. Fragments and Monuments' experimental live and mediated style thrust Wollstonecraft and her supporters to the forefront of contemporary thought, lest there was any danger of her obscurity. A twist of live action documentary filmmaking involving the audience as extras made us aware of the historical document as an issue upon the contemporary, the effect being an exercise in critical distance, trace and aura. The product of this live event is a film to be screened in autumn 2006 at Newington Green. This in itself goes some way to develop the notion of the recording of performance for documentation purposes. In this case, filmmaking was used as both genre and as documentation of the live. It was a playful trajectory with a schizophrenic relationship with time, enabling history to be catapulted forward to the present.

As I leaf through my copy of Walter Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History, my own highlighted passage leaps out in the context of this production: ‘every image of the past that is not recognised by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably’.

Presenting Artists

Newington Green

Date Seen
  1. Sep 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-1
p. 26