Performed live at Underbelly Arts Festival
Saturday 7 th Oct 1pm-10pm and Sunday 8 th Oct 12pm-6pm
National Art School, Sydney AU
A parliament of owls:
⚬ A solitary, nocturnal bird of prey characterised by its small beak
and wide face.
⚬ A farsighted bird, the owl cannot clearly see anything within a few centimetres
of its face.
A parliament of owls is a project that explores the intersection of performance, writing and experimental
documentation processes. Working in a collaborative space, this project seeks to make visible the inherent
subjectivity and multiplicity of experiencing a live moment. Here, the performer-turned-scribe acts as expert
witness for the festival, recording their observations as narrative and graphic notations. These observations
appear in real-time via a textual live stream housed on this website, evidencing the generation of a type
of subjective real-time documentation.
At its core, A parliament of owls is an exploration of sight. Since antiquity, western culture has privileged
vision and its deeply entwined concepts of truth, knowledge, leadership and rationalism. From Ancient Greek
culture comes the motif of the owl as a symbol of Athena, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom; and Aristotle’s
theory of the five-sense hierarchy, which privileges sight as the sense most closely associated with God,
abstract thought and contemplation. Seeping into contemporary contexts, historical and cultural constructions
of the senses influence what is paid attention to and what is overlooked. When thinking about the creation
of archives and collective memories, the role of visibility is undeniable in the process of record-making.
Histories are preserved through tangible objects and records that can be stored and displayed. Populations
are surveilled, catalogued and represented. More recently, social media encourages individuals to document
personal lives in minute detail.
A parliament of owls takes these ideas as a starting point to ask: who is accorded the task of record-making?
How are events streamlined into a singular narrative? What is overlooked and lost in the process? By experimenting
with the form and method of documentation, A parliament of owls acknowledges the vital role vision plays
in constructing collective memories while also attempting to find space for multiplicity and the multisensory,
both in terms of what is recorded, but also by whom.
INFORMATION + LINKS
Underbelly Arts Lab and Festival tickets ↗
National Art School: Forbes St & Burton St, Darlinghurst NSW AU 2010 ↗
Boni Cairncross ↗
software and web development
Andreas Steinwachs ↗
costume design and construction