Dublin Fringe preview: Choreographer Jessie Keenan writes for Culture about Fragments, her new dance piece about the fragility of memory, and the childhood experience of her grandfather's dementia, currently playing at The Complex.
Since an early age I’ve been fascinated by memory. I find it intriguing that this incredibly fragile process can be such an anchor to who we are. In the very process of reconstructing our memories, the present moment affects them – we continuously edit our versions of the past.
Memory is an incredibly dynamic process that shifts and alters all the time. With this work I ask the question: What can we hold on to as our memories alter or even disappear completely?
Inspired by this intricate process, I have made a new dance work for this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival. Fragments explores how we recall autobiographical memories, and the beauty, mystery and instability within that process.
WATCH - Filmmaker Janna Kemperman's trailer for Fragments:
The work has emerged from two years of research carried out with scientists, dancers and family members. It began by drawing on childhood memories of my grandfather, who had Alzheimer's (a form of Dementia), and lead to a wider curiosity into how we actually reconstruct our memories. With a primary degree in science, Fragments has been a way to bring my background in science and my current dance practice together in a new way.
When I started putting plans in motion to make Fragments, I began a conversation with Dr. Richard Roche, a researcher and lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Maynooth University. Throughout my creative process, it has felt important to ground studio-based artistic research in an understanding of current scientific research in memory processes. Dr. Roche has generously shared sources of information, history of the study of memory, and his own studies into reminiscence therapy. He has also been our go-to consultant for all the random questions that pop up in rehearsals, and there are many!
LISTEN - From Irene Buckley's score for Fragments:
I am delighted to work with an amazing creative team to bring this work to life. Three talented dancers, Marion Cronin, Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín, and Sarah Ryan; Cork based composer Irene Buckley who has created a stunning soundscape for the show, and Galway based lighting designer Matt Burke who frames the work beautifully with light and fractured video projections.
I know I have added to this memory every time I have thought about it, or brought it out to look at...It has got both further away and brighter, more and less ‘real’.
A.S. Byatt, quoted in Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough
Memory is an incredibly dynamic process that shifts and alters all the time. With this work I ask the question: What can we hold on to as our memories alter or even disappear completely? It is compelling to me that through researching the scientific processes of memory I have again returned to the personal, my grandfather, but this time in a more spacious way.
Fragments is not about one memory: it shifts through several possible memories, reconstructing and deconstructing them, becoming more and less visible, and forming surprising moments of connection.
Fragments plays at the The Complex, Dublin until September 14th - find out more here.