Have you ever stood in a museum or gallery and wondered what stories really lie behind the abbreviated captions accompanying artworks?
Under the umbrella of the grass-roots project ‘100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object’, which takes as its point of departure the BBC Radio 4 program ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, we seek to expand the number of stories a museum object can have, as well as the nature in which these stories are told. The story we want to tell takes the sculpture of Ramesses II at The British Museum as its protagonist. It's a story about colonial occupation, plunder and cultural appropriation on the one hand, and de-colonisation, provenance and cultural restitution on the other. It is a story about how an artwork from ancient Egypt came to be in Britain and how Britain today might give back both morally and in the literal sense. Indeed, it is a story about healing, as much as acknowledging, colonial wounds. And we are now looking for dancers to help tell that story. If you identify as a female dancer of African or Greek descent, and likewise feel passionate about the return of colonial-era artefacts to their countries and communities of origin, then please get in touch to find out more about the project.
At this stage, dancers would only need to be available for a Research & Development workshop on the 2nd and 3rd October 2021, from 10am to 6pm both days, at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios. They would also need to be comfortable with being filmed. One of our end goals is to produce a dance film that could be shown alongside Ramesses II at the British Museum—as an alternative caption for the sculpture, say, should the museum ever let down its guard!
Given that this is a grass-roots project, there are unfortunately no funds to pay dancers. We can, however, reimburse travel and lunch expenses. We hope too that, should you be interested in accompanying us on our journey with what is proving to be an increasingly contested topic, the project will prove rewarding in its own right. Sentimentalism aside, by putting together R&D footage, we sincerely hope to secure funding for our project and its dancers in the near future.
Liza Weber and James Scotland met through the National Youth Theatre in 2010 when they performed together in ‘Relish’. They have since maintained a working relationship, most recently performing as Jokanaan and Salome in a production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’.
Liza is a postgraduate researcher at the Centre for German Jewish studies, University of Sussex, where she is writing a PhD thesis on the legacies of Nazi-looted art in post-war west Germany. A graduate of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA), she is committed to the fields of cultural heritage protection, provenance research and art restitution and driven by the question of how to give back stories of provenance through alternative forms of restitution.
Classically trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, James founded Khaos in 2014, an artist-led international theatre company that is, much like our proposal, committed to unearthing narratives and practices pre-dating Ancient Greece.
Most recent projects include: Assistant Director on ‘SHE VENTURES AND HE WINS’ directed by Sasha Milavic Davies for the Young Vic; and Co-Curator of The Sunday Art Club, a non-for-profit platform for artists to be seen.
Performers can email: firstname.lastname@example.org