Artistic Project - Call out for Participants In International Video Installation Piece

Posted on 13 Jul 2021


About the project

Which deaths and which births have influenced and changed my life so far?
Who have I welcomed, who have I lost and said farewell to – and what has happened to me in the process?

The latest long-term project by Swiss artist Mats Staub approaches universal themes through existential individual experiences and in relation to local contexts. In every place it’s presented it brings people together to talk to each other about their experiences of death and birth – while also showing conversations from other regions and establishing connections from one side of the world to another.

Over the last decade Mats Staub has participated in a great many conversations for installations like: for «My Grandparents» he questioned over 300 grandchildren in 14 different cities; for «21 – Memories of Growing Up» he has produced around 200 video portraits in eight countries on three continents. He’s now extending his artistic practice to include the moment when two people meet: instead of initiating conversations himself, in «Death and Birth in My Life» he brings two people together in a clearly defined space and enables them to engage each other in conversation while he’s present as an invisible companion. The participants are filmed both speaking and listening – so visitors to the installation will be able to look at the faces of both the speakers and the listeners shown on two screens.

As in all his participatory projects, Mats offers a protected space in which he provides a clear starting point and simple rules: both participants start by telling the story of their own birth as it has been told to them, then one of them will narrate one of their experiences while the other listens and then has the chance to respond with a story of their own, starting wherever they’ve been led by listening to the previous account.

Some of these conversations are between people who have known each other for decades, others between people who are meeting for the first time. All of them are willing to take part in an unusual conversation on camera while knowing that the decision whether the conversation is suitable for presentation as part of Mats’ project will only be made afterwards. Mats Staub will condense the selected conversations to a length of around 50 minutes. A distinct selection of edited conversations will be chosen for every venue in which the project is shown.

For more information please contact Justin

What we are interested in

We’ve listed some of the participants’ abilities, experiences and characteristics in conversations we’ve found interesting:

* The person has experienced death and birth in their life involving a person they were/are close to. It could be several experiences or also just two. It is less important that this experiences are particularly dramatic or extraordinary than that the person has experienced it consciously and has reflected on it to some extent.

* The person has encountered death or/and birth in their professional life (doctors, nurses, hospice carers, midwives, priests, undertakers, bereavement counsellors, etc.) and can talk about these experiences on a personal level. We are not interested in expert talks, but in people (who may happen to be midwives, gynecologists, undertakers, etc.), but who’ve had personal experiences they are willing to talk about.

* The person has the ability to reflect on and narrate that experience and let the listener in on it. It’s not just about stating the facts.

* The person’s experience is not so recent, traumatic or raw as to interfere with the telling of it. Participants must on no account be exposed or their emotions exploited.

* We wish to include people from different professional, social, religious and cultural backgrounds and not just members of a white intellectual society or the arts. 

* We’ve often experienced that there are interesting individuals we cannot find a match for. In that case, we’ve found, it’s better to leave it instead of randomly pairing  them up.

How does it work?

1) If you are interested in taking part in this project, first of all: thank you! You will be contacted by the production team for a short online conversation with Mats and/or his dramaturg Simone who will tell you more about the project, answer your questions, meet you so as to be able to pair you up with another participant.

2) Once you’ve definitely be chosen as a participant, you will be asked to write a short list of the deaths and births in your life and send it to Mats (who will first share his personal list with you)

3) You will be invited for a conversation, in Dublin at the end of July 2021, and paired up with another participant. Your conversation will be filmed in front of a neutral background and will take about 50 minutes. Mats will be there to answer any questions you might have and look after you.

4) Mats will edit the conversation (cut it, without changing the chronology) and send it to you to watch.

5) The video installation – in which your video will be shown alongside others from all over the world – will take place in the framework of the Dublin Theatre Festival. The venue is to be announced still.

The Dublin filming dates are 28 – 30 July 2021 in a COVID-19 compliant space in the city centre