Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
what I was walling in or walling out
and to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.
From Mending Wall by Robert Frost
Wall touches on separation, security, freedom, anxiety, separation, control/loss of control, fear of the “other,” displacement and identity. It’s a simple metaphor with complex and nuanced meaning. Perhaps Wall is more relevant, more urgent and more potent today than when we created it in 2013 commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario, then remounted for the Art Gallery of Mississuaga at F'd Up.
Beginning the work, Frog in Hand was curious about combining dance with weaving. Working with Frog in Hand dancers, I played with creating trails of movement with various fibres. Together we created a woven wall as a conceptual sculpture, a ritual, a political statement… a poem brought to life through thread and movement. The Wall became a symbol for for unity, protection, and simultaneously for separation and segregation. As the dancers weave the structure, a wall emerges as a wall of thread physically cleaving and dividing space, and separating people but over time clearly demarcating territory and turf. The weaving leaves a trace of the performers’ path as they travel to create it. This journey back and forth is a microcosm of migration, a route traveled repetitively by individuals, accumulating into a statement of displacement and disruption. Eventually the fragility of the woven wall emerges in contrast to the weight of the rocks and the bodies now relegated to one side or the other.
Of note: The Wall was also re-imagined as a participatory community art event, involving young dancers and community members to join in the weaving of walls on the site of the Bradley Museum in Mississauga. The performance was followed by a conversation about communities, boundaries, colonial histories and containment.
The Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Mississauga F'd Up! Youth Arts Week Bradley Museum Mississauga
Concept & Choreography: Colleen Snell & Kristen Carcone
Dancers: Colleen Snell, Kristen Carcone, Mateo Torres
Costume, Set, Weaving: Noelle Hamlyn
Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Mississauga