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An Occupation of Loss

Published date
01 May 2018
By Tracy Gordon, MA Service Experience Design Innovation, LCC and PG Community Ambassador

On April 23rd, students, alumni and staff of the UAL Postgraduate Community and led by PG Community Ambassador from LCC Tracy Gordon, gathered in a local pub in Essex Road to meet, share some refreshments, and discuss their interest in Artangel and Taryn Simon’s ‘An Occupation of Loss’.

Then it was time to move to the venue, located in an underground, unfinished construction, which was ideal for the simultaneous performances and rituals of grief of professional mourners from around the world.

ProjectsAll participants were instructed not to talk, or take pictures during the performance, and afterwards, they were silently directed to the show. The PG Community along with general audience were amused and overwhelmed by the ambience of the place. The combination between the building, lighting, shadows and the sound made the cacophony much more intense. The lamenters, from Azerbaijan, Albania, Romania, Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Ghana, Greece, China, Romania, were placed in concrete hexagons illuminated with dim lights, expressed their mourning rituals of grief and loss. The show was powerful and emotional and even at the end of the show, the audience stayed for a few extra minutes at the venue exploring the empty spaces, the silence of the absence of the lamenters while processing the performances they had just witnessed.

Taryn Simon’s first major performance explored the relationship between life and death, grief and performance and was critically acclaimed by the audience and media.

The show was followed by an exclusive Q&A session for the UAL PG Community with lead artist Taryn Simon. Participants asked different questions, exploring Taryn’s inspiration, different work, and congratulated Simon for an unexpected and multisensorial performance. Simon shared with the participants that she is highly committed to her work, and she initially pieced it together not knowing if it would work in the end or how it would turn out to be. She also shared how it took her several years researching professional mourning, which culminated in a performance co-commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory and Artangel.

Image credit: An Occupation of Loss, London, 2018
Ⓒ Hugo Glendinning Courtesy Artangel and Taryn Simon