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The Mourner: Lamentation in Dust

Lucy Willow

ANTIfestival, Kupio, Finland 2019


The last time I left the house was to make a piece of work was in September 2019 in Kupio, Finland as part of the Antifestival, a performance festival which happens every year. In 2019 the theme was death and I was invited to work with the dust in an old industrial unit to make a series of works.

The Mourner: Lamentation in Dust is based on a piece of sculpture by American artist Susan Clinard given to me by my sister in 2019. The small piece of sculpture has a powerful presence. With an open mouth and torso reminiscent of an out breath of deep sorrow she looks as though she was an embodiment of collective mourning. Her head is formed from clay, her body cloth with wooden arms outstretched in a cross shape with clenched fists. I decided to dress as her and to create a series of dust works as the quintessential mourner you might come across tending the graves of the dead in an Italian cemetery.


Susan Clinard, the Mourner


In our newsletter this month we talked about the Irish tradition of Keening and the idea of professional mourners being hired for funeral processions to sing to the souls of the dead. Current research focuses on this idea that a woman could embody a communities grief, she could become a conduit of grief and had power in this. I wonder how much grief she can allow to flow through her? This was the first performance piece of work that I have done. It was hot and uncomfortable much like grief itself.

To read more about this particular piece of work it was part of The Death and Culture 111, York University online conference September 2020. Paper can be viewed below.

Death and Culture Conference
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