Friday 24 February, 15:00-17:00
Room GC204, Graduate Centre
Sound Installation in Room GC203
Grief cries – a presentation, conversation space and sound installation exploring themes of loss, grief and academic life, through the tradition of keening
The pre-Christian tradition of caoineadh/keening was once an integral part of funerals in Ireland and Scotland. This dramatic practice consisted of highly stylised and emotive improvised sung poetry and piercing wails. Keening died out in the early 20th century yet in the past decade it has reappeared in Ireland in new contexts called Keening ceremonies – where groups come together to share, support and sound their grief collectively.
This event, entitled Grief Cries, explores the sounds and practice of keening and it’s present day uses. A 30 minute presentation will be given, by researcher Michelle Collins, describing past practices and uses of keening, and present day forms and applications of the tradition. Students will then have an opportunity to experience a sample of keening as an excerpt of the presenter’s sound installation Caoine will be exhibited.
Over light refreshments the group will collectively explore themes of loss and grief. How can we be further inspired by traditions such as keening? Can such practices play a role in contemporary life? Over the course of 90 minutes – through presentation, sound installation and group conversation – Grief Cries will provide a space to discuss death, loss and grief – subjects that are often very hard to talk about – and draws awareness to the issues related to talking about these universal experiences in contemporary society. It provides a space for reflection on what constitutes grief, allowing discussion to evolve around what may cause grief and loss, and the potential for experiences of loss and grief in academic life.
Grief Cries is a space for discussion and reflection. It is not a counselling or healing session.
Speaker: Michelle Collins
This presentation, exhibition and conversation is facilitated by Michelle Collins. Growing up in rural Ireland Michelle had always been told of the wailing tradition of keening. Being exposed to a version of this practice while working in Zambia, she went on to pursue her interest in this fascinating cultural practice by completing an MA in Traditional Arts at Telemark University in Norway with a thesis entitled: Caoine, Spaces for Vocalising Grief. Through the course of this MA Michelle developed the sound installation Caoine. This installation allowed audience members an immersive experience of present day interpretations of keening and was exhibited at three arts festivals – Raulandsakademiet, Norway, Skibbereen Arts Festival Ireland, Engage Arts Festival, Ireland. Last year Michelle further developed her work and presented and researched a radio documentary – The Sounds of Grief – which was aired on RTE Lyric fm in January 2016. She is author of publication ‘Corporeal Interventions and the Contemporary Sounds of Keening’ and recently completed an MA in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester where she explored further aspects of this tradition and its symbolic role in the Easter 1916 Rising and centenary commemorations.
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