15th September 2022
Part of Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme, a new visual vernacular performance film, created by Deaf artist Chisato Minamimura, enables audiences to experience myths and beliefs of ancient Greece and Egypt with all five senses.
Created in partnership with Reading University’s Ure Museum, Hesychia – which is named using the Greek word for ‘silence’ – is a film which will be projected onto the ceiling of the museum. Viewers will experience smells and tastes of ancient Greece and will wear Woojer™ straps which use vibrations to provide another way for people to experience the sound in the performance.
Visual vernacular is a type of physical theatre which combines movement, gestures, sign language and facial expressions to convey meaning.
Chisato Minamimura explained:
“It has been amazing to work with the Ure Museum; their vast and precious collections are fascinating and are such an important archive. I hope my installation in the space sheds a new light on this collection, allows more people to engage with the exhibition and offers a physicalised representation of these ancient artefacts.”
The installation will be complemented by Greek and Egyptian artefacts from the Ure Museum collection which tell stories about silence and sounds in the ancient world. The performance combines elements of myths including the Greek story of Medusa, who was said to have been born a mortal and transformed into a monster, and the Egyptian deity Bennu, said to have played a role in the creation of the world.
The artist also took inspiration from ancient Greek beliefs around the stars and constellations, and audiences are encouraged to view the work lying on the ground, to mimic the viewing of the stars.
Amy C. Smith, Curator of the Ure Museum and Head of the Classics Department at University of Reading, said:
“This is going to something which most of us have never experienced before, catering to all of the senses. It’s been really eye-opening working with Chisato and being inspired by her intuitions and ideas about the museum and its collections.”
Chisato Minamimura said:
“I would like people to experience the work with all of their senses. They will be invited to imagine the experience of people who lived in ancient Greek times, how they might look up to the night sky and use the constellations as maps, and a source of inspiration and storytelling.”
Michael Kitchin, Chisato Minamimura’s producer, added:
“Hesychia uses visual vernacular to make the work equally accessible to both Deaf and hearing audiences. It integrates this accessibility into the work itself instead of creating stand-alone versions for different audiences.”
Hesychia will be on show at Ure Museum in Reading on Friday 30 September at 5.30pm, including a Q&A with artist Chisato Minamimura. Tickets are free and can be booked via Eventbrite.
Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme presents artworks in unexpected places and
supports small and medium scale museums to commission artists, forging new relationships
between the contemporary arts and heritage sectors.