When I began my residency with Public Energy in September 2019, I set this trajectory for myself:
Through research, witnessing and performative responses, I want to link sites that exist to protect or preserve historical artifacts to sites that feel discarded or forgotten. In this work, I want to consider the creative potential of historical research and the inherently performative elements of material history.
Over the past 7 months, my research has been conducted in studios, archives, offices, during pilgrimages around the city, and in conversation with many experts.
As I broaden and deepen my relationship to sources I’m engaging with, I find myself considering how histories are held and reshaped in communities, in the material, embodied ways we share space. I am interested in how we are asked to care about and care for stories or histories that we have not lived or experienced ourselves. How do we collectively come to relate to something as meaningful or worth remembering? In what way is this process active or activating? In what way is it passive or pacifying?
I consider these questions at a very specific moment in Peterborough – a moment that our city shares with so many other former “Company Towns.” Maybe we would describe this moment as the proverbial closure of industry, the loss of jobs and the subsequent financial and identity crisis.
But I’m also referring to a deeper, more devastating realization: that the great job creator, the one we were always told had built our city, was slowly poisoning its workforce. As former workers call on all of us to radically rethink the history of industry in this town, they present a new narrative, and with it, new sources, questions and reference points.
Under a deluge of new information, what strategies can we use to situate and recontextualize our home? There is urgency baked into this question. Memories are fragile, more fragile than artifacts. They need a place to live. They may not be perfectly preserved. But they can be sustained.
At this point in the residency, I am just beginning to share my questions and research with a number of brilliant collaborators who are going to be responding to my prompts in various ways. These collaborators are: Ann Jaeger, Lillian Ross-Millard, Eryn Lidster and Miranda Jones.
We hope to eventually present a series of multidisciplinary invitations to you. We may be able to present our work to you in shared physical spaces in Peterborough. However, if current conditions continue to demand that we stay away from large gatherings for our collective safety, then we will use other strategies to reach you.
Please follow me on Instagram (val_des_monts) or Twitter (@AnneWhite93) to receive updates on the project.
Anne White is a Nogojiwanong/Peterborough-based artist, learning how to live and work respectfully on land and waters governed by the Williams Treaties. With a background in physical, collaborative and devised theatre, she makes live performance works, frequently developed and performed outside of traditional theatre spaces.
Anne’s work explores institutional structures of power (social, cultural, historical, technological, etc.) and how these structures constitute our spatial, temporal, aesthetic, embodied and emotional experiences of a place. By making these structures of power visible through art, we can explore strategies for questioning and subverting them.
She has her BA (Honours) in Theatre Studies and History and has trained with Zuppa Theatre Co., Adam Paolozza, and Quote Unquote Collective, among others. She is a recent recipient of Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program and has been commissioned by local festivals including Artsweek (2018). Anne is a co-founder of the arts collective Ring O’ Rosie and regularly collaborates with artists from other disciplines.