Two years ago I made Arcade Fire’s “Reflector” my alarm. It is not important why I picked it or kept it but I will say that listening to the same song, first thing every morning, has finally paid off. David Bowie (SpaceAngel) sings on the track and I often sing along with him - “thought you agreed to the resurrector turns out is was just a reflector” - and today a little rolling ball of though finally dropped into its hole. The re-enactors push so hard to be authentic and serious with their work because they are trying desperately to resurrect something - a place, a time, a moment, a story - but no matter how detailed they make their clothes, weapons, campsites, battles they can only reflect the past. Of course this is very obvious. The important part for me are the words - resurrect and reflect.
As I edit my proposal for “Energizing the Past Through Performance” I have been thinking, in a way about reflections, or reproductions. The material I collect during my research is not historical but rather documentary. I record myself participating in re-enactments, or other people demonstrating or performing history. The re-enacment is a reflection, my recording is a reflection and using the recording as material of the recording would be a reflection…. of a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. And so we are back to Arcade Fire.
This also makes me think of Walter Benjamin and The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in which he explains the idea of aura and how it is lost or at least altered at the moment of reproduction. Does historical re-enactment have an aura? I suppose if you think of it as a reproduction the aura of the original is missing - lost to time. But if you think of the re-enactment as art in an of itself then it has an aura of its own.