My tutor suggested during the A5 feedback that I jot down some words on the emotional aspect of creating this project. It would be fair to say that this has been an incredibly emotional topic to research. Reading survivors’ accounts in their own words of what happened to them in the residential school and hearing it verbalised in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings and seeing the pain and anguish on their faces was heartbreaking and I frequently found myself reaching for the tissue box.
The biggest challenge with this work was to present it in a way that it didn’t become ‘a spectacle’, yet at the same time I did want the viewer to tap into his/her emotions while viewing the work as this is a history that is seldom acknowledged. I feel that by incorporating the audio tracks and videos of the actual survivors encourages the viewer to bear witness to the atrocities committed in the residential school because we are not relying solely on our visual senses for illustrative impact and thus the viewing experience is intensified. We need to know, we need to remember.
As Marianne Hirsch states “memory is necessarily an act not only of recall, but also of mourning” and it is right and proper than we mourn the loss of innocence, childhood, parental and familial love alongside these children.
Hirsch, M. (1996) ‘Past Lives: Postmemories in Exile’ In: Poetics Today 17 (4) pp.659–686.