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liz davidson
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© liz davidson 2006-11 all rights reserved

The installation/ performance piece "The Singing of the Stones' was born of an image of a female Christ that had been in my mind for several years. In 1991-92 I started to have a recurring nightmare that I was dying and while I knew I was dreaming some part of me wanted to know what death was like. At that time, I was attending workshops on “Creativity and Dreaming”, given by my friend Raechel Bratnick, and I decided to work with this nightmare. What came out of this work was an image of a golden cross and the feeling that I was myself being crucified. But what surprised me, shocked me the most, was my capability to withstand the pain of crucifixion- the known-, rather than surrender to death, to the unknown, to transformation.

In July of 1994, I met a very pregnant friend at a concert. She was utterly radiant, and I knew I had found my female Christ. She agreed to be my model and that I would cast her at the very end of her pregnancy. As the work was progressed it evolved into the rape of the female Christ, a rape perpetrated by the patriarchal values of our history and our society. Women know this feeling and carry it in their bodies. It’s a feeling we try to escape, to run away from. And in my case, I couldn’t seem to run fast enough anymore.

During the casting work, another friend suggested that I submit a proposal for an event organized to commemorate the women who died in the Montreal Polytechnic Massacre. That’s when the piece took on all its meaning and exploded into a performance piece. : At the side of the cross with the hanging female Christ were chalices, cast bellies of pregnant friends and other symbols that connected the piece to the 14 women killed. Stunning links seemed to be woven between the female Christ, the 14 Stations of the Cross, and the victims of the Polytechnic.

The piece also spoke to me in terms of music, sound and words. John Purdy, a composer friend, gave me his setting of the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is My Shepherd”) to use and two settings of the Magnificat (“My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord”). I learned that in Guatemala, the singing of the Magnificat was banned, as it had become a fulcrum for liberation in the social justice movement. Nothing could be more appropriate for this piece.

With the addition of tableaux vivants, sculpture and the projection of a video representing the 14 Stations of the Cross the piece 'For Sophia...the Female Christ' became "The Singing of the Stones."

This is a collaborative work and, as such, would never have been possible without the help of many people. I was humbled by the great generosity, love and support which they offered and which helped bring this work to life. Thanks go to John Ballantyne, whose constant encouragement, support and loving presence surrounds me, to Cheryl Long, to Raechel (Karen) Bratnick, who helped me to incubate and hold the dream, to Shirley Fischlin, for her great kindness and gentleness as I showed her the music; to Susan Reininger, who came into my life like an answer to a prayer, and to Stansje Plantenga, who "saw" this performance first. Almut Ellinghaus, Dena Goldberg, Hélène Carrier Laplume, Louise Patch and Stansje came out week after week, year after year and brought with them such generosity of spirit and heart. Thanks also to Christina Richards, a great sister and editor, and to Karen Bessette, who sat at the edge of the ocean for me.

 

1994-97

In Memory of

Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Marie Klueznick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne- Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte

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© liz davidson 2006-11 all rights reserved

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