Re­stored in time for Re­mem­brance Day

Five-hour Af­ter­math a pre­lude to si­lence


At pre­cisely 6.04am on Sun­day, a hand­ful of mu­si­cians will break the quiet of dawn by per­form­ing a unique work de­signed to build slowly to­wards the tra­di­tional minute of si­lence that marks Re­mem­brance Day.

Named Af­ter­math, the five­hour event will be held at the MPav­il­ion in Mel­bourne’s Queen Vic­to­ria Gar­dens, sit­u­ated on the ap­proach to the Shrine of Re­mem­brance.

“I de­scribe it more as a du­ra­tional per­for­mance in­stal­la­tion rather than a con­ven­tional piece of mu­sic,” says co-curator and clar­inet player Aviva En­dean.

“We re­ally don’t know ex­actly how the event is go­ing to play out — it will de­pend on the au­di­ence and how they choose to en­gage with it.”

Ac­com­pa­nied by Peter Knight on trum­pet, elec­tronic mu­si­cian Tilman Robin­son and vo­cal­ist Ge­orgie Dar­vidis, En­dean will also over­see a dif­fer­ent kind of au­ral re­mem­brance.

“I’ve been work­ing on sourc­ing archival record­ings of war, which will be pressed on to records, and those will be played all around the MPav­il­ion space,” En­dean said. “These old por­ta­ble record play­ers be­come what we’re call­ing an orches­tra of re­mem­ber­ing ma­chines.”

The work was partly con­ceived to ap­peal to an au­di­ence that might have stayed away from pub­lic gath­er­ings on Novem­ber 11, per­haps be­cause of a lack of con­nec­tion to mil­i­tary ser­vice.

“I’m 32 and I feel like my­self and most of my friends have never been to a Re­mem­brance Day event. It’s not re­ally some­thing that’s be­come part of the cul­ture of the younger gen­er­a­tion, at least in my so­cial cir­cle,” said En­dean, an as­so­ciate artist at the Aus­tralian Art Orches­tra whose de­but al­bum cin­der: em­ber: ashes was re­leased on Nor­we­gian record la­bel SOFA this year.

Af­ter­math con­tains no speeches, nor is there a cor­rect place to stand or en­gage with the work — those de­ci­sions are left en­tirely up to the au­di­ence, as be­fit­ting its im­pro­vi­sa­tional na­ture.

On Sun­day morn­ing, though, at­ten­dees will be en­cour­aged to fold white pop­pies and write small mes­sages that may be in­cor­po­rated into Dar­vidis’s vo­cals.

Af­ter­math’s du­ra­tion re­flects the long-last­ing af­ter­shocks felt by all so­ci­eties af­fected by war.

“It’s not about a heroic act of per­form­ing for five hours; the per­form­ers will have mo­ments where they won’t be do­ing much,” said En­dean. “I think those kinds of his­to­ries de­serve that long to think about them. I’m cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to giv­ing my­self that much time.”

Be­fore and af­ter: Peter Jack­son em­ployed ‘all our com­puter fire­power’ to re­store his­tor­i­cal war footage. ‘They sud­denly come alive as real peo­ple,’ he says of the sol­diers in his film.


Aviva En­dean: ‘It will de­pend on the au­di­ence’

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