Along The Well
 
Palimpsest Performances
at Woodford Academy
 
Curated by Sarah Breen-Lovett
For the National Trust Australia

Along the Well is a participatory performance artwork that acknowledges the natural resource of water as the reason the site at Woodford became a meeting point for man kind. Looking past cultural differences to find common intentions and concerns, it pays homage to the fact that it has been point of navigation for many travellers who have passed through over the years, or stopped to hydrate, eat and rest before moving on to the next place. Walking as art practice is employed to commune with the land and embody the element of travel.

 

The participants were led on silent walking tours of the expanded site, encompassing the museum and the adjacent reserve, following the pathways the water takes across the grounds. Their silence was in respect of the sacred histories of the site that for cultural reasons will not be spoken. Their silence also acknowledged lost histories, private moments that were never recorded, and so can never be spoken. Scattered around the grounds—on the water sources; the unmarked graveyard; along the marks in the rock; and around the well—performers dressed in white stood still, bringing attention to these significant places with their gaze and appearing as apparitions to the walking crowds who traversed the site in single file, carrying white paper cups. 

 

This work was a gesture in extending peaceful intentions into the post-colonial situation in Australia, through silence, presence, and respect.