Memories. That psychological way in which our brains stores and retrieves aspects of our lives and the general movement of the human race. Memory makes us. It creates and defines our personality and characteristics through what we remember subconsciously and what we choose to remember. As a person with a chaotic, hectic schedule, I can choose to remember important dates and deadlines and appointments. Alongside this I might not think I’m going to remember that morning that seemed average at the time, waking up, breakfast, university, and work. But it can turn into something my head can’t quite let go of. We remember faces, every face you see in a dream is a face you’ve seen before, memory is fleeting and memory is in the background. There’s no escaping memories, only ways of submerging them under the strains of day to day life.
Rachel Clarke & Hayley Graham present Memory Box as a part of Bish, Bash, Bosh at Yorkshire Dance for Light Night 2015. Featuring a performance installation made from childhood memories, this piece allowed spectators to drop in as they wish and explore at their own free will.
As you enter the back room of the second floor at Yorkshire Dance, having been there many times before, it can be said honestly that there was no able preparation for what I would see as I entered Memory Box. You are instantly bombarded with elements of colour, light, and of youthfulness. The piece is displayed like an exhibition, were audience members can wander around the space, taking in the detailed displays of the walls and the cluster of objects filling the room. I was instantly drawn to the childhood photos that were placed on the corner of the wall almost immediately after you enter. Here are photographs of the dancers from when they were young, all living very different lives in different areas of the country with different upbringings, but besides this there is one reoccurring element, joy.
It was refreshing to see a physical dance performance based around moments of happiness. Too often choreographers get caught in the negativity and troubled world that we live in, but in this case these two graduates focused on a universal point of contentment. The dancers: Hayley Graham, Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin, Beth Ellis and Alexandra Mettam all demonstrated eternal smiles and movement which practically bounced from phrase to phrase.
There was one aspect of the piece that really struck me as point of creativity and imagination that begins in all young children. Against one side of the room there stood two tall fabric displays of a pirate and a princess. You were able to put your head through their head hole and it would appear as if you had their body. As a child this is an extremely important aspect of the pinnacle of imagination. You take your own life and let your mind wander into the wonder of fairytale. Of fighting bad guys and being rescued, of glitter and of excitement. It is those points of creativity that channel thoughts into creating such work as what I viewed tonight.
Towards the back section of the room, in a slightly more darkened corner there is a table set with party food, paper plates and party hats. Looking at this table in the context of a child’s party, you think of the frantic scrabble of children fighting for their place, fighting for their favourite colour party hat and then eating so much until the point of nausea. But when looking at this beautifully set table surrounded by dancers who are well on their way to professional careers, you see the nostalgia of when things were this easy for them. When food was free, when plates were unbreakable and a simple coloured party hat could compliment any outfit. You see the wistfulness, longing and flicker of loved memories in their eyes. As I watch on, like a parent from the distance I think of the parties I went to as a child, and suddenly realizing the effect this piece of work has had upon me. Looking around this room I see my own childhood flicking over my eyes like a cinematic lens.
As a conclusion to my time in the Memory Box, I am left with scattered memories and thoughts of things that were seemingly evident in most childhoods across our Western Culture. It made me think about the wonderful things that I did have growing up, and even ponder the very idea of photographs, allowing us to glance back over the frozen smiles and fleeting moments. The instruments, the sound of children, the lights and how they flicker as bright as a young child’s future, are all something that resonate somewhere deep inside of ourselves.