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Horizon Showcase: FORGE

Words: Izzy Toner

4 stars

Rachel Mars, a London based performer and writer, presents a unique three-day installation in which she welds a replica of the stolen Dachau concentration camp gate. This immersive experience explores questions regarding sites of collective historical trauma, and who memorials are really for.

Upon entering the site, the walls are draped with pink cloth with posters explaining what FORGE is, and its significance in broader political and social contexts. This includes the history of the Dachau gate’s theft and replication, as well as Jewish customs surrounding death and mourning. Slightly beyond, audience members are given a short safety briefing and kitted up with heavy aprons and welding masks, before entering the performance space.

Chairs are sparsely placed throughout the room, while others quietly move around Rachel to observe the process from different angles. Though the room is well lit for Rachel to work, the square of vision afforded by the welding mask is much darker, and when the sparks from welding grow too bright occasionally the mask’s vision blacks out for short moments. This, with an accompanying soundscape that journeys through ominous, upbeat and emotional sections, creates an incredibly atmospheric space.

Rachel herself remains in deep concentration for the duration of the live welding, and although she is serious, she is certainly not robotic in her performance. After the hour is concluded, audience members are invited in the next space to sit and process this thought provoking exhibition, and a small informational booklet is provided for further reading.

FORGE was an extraordinary experience, and one of the most profoundly interesting and impactful displays I have seen at this year’s festival.

Horizon Showcase: FORGE
Lyceum Roseburn, Workshop
Various Times
24-25 Aug


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