Power over memory - A case study

Giving Contours to Shadows, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin, Germany 2014
LIVE Bienale of Performance Art, Vancouver, Canada 2013

In 1985, musician and scholar Clive Wearing contracts a virus that attacks his brain. In the decades following this neurological damage, Wearing perpetually ‘wakes up’ every seven to thirty seconds with no recollection of the previous moment.

Power Over Memory, a performance piece by Márcio Carvalho, imaginatively considers Wearing’s state of amnesia and compares this to the case of John Rambo, specially the several brains behind Rambo's figure and the movies First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, and the most recent Rambo. Though Rambo’s problems cannot be as easily linked to a physical ailment as in the case of Wearing, this is almost fitting, as Rambo himself is not really physical, real. He’s a fiction. The questions brought up by comparing him, an imaginary figure, with a well-documented medical case not only draws analogies between kinds of memory and the nature of remembrance, but also asks how fictions such as cinema and media images act upon the mind. The resulting performance is a playful examination of memory, biology, history, fantasy, and politics, emphasizing the complexities that occur at the interstices of these subjects.

Photo credits: Emma Haugh and Faber Neifer