Scotiabank Toronto Nuit Blanche 2011

by Catherine

Catherine Zagar


Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 starts in Toronto on Saturday, October 1 at 6:59PM and continues until Sunrise.

In support of mental health and women’s health awareness in Toronto this year, there will be an impromptu artist-audience reading of fifty confessional poems, each in the form of an anonymous letter, meant to open up our intense relationship with self-blame, guilt, and the stigmata of self-absolving practices. Simultaneously beginning at 6:59pm and every 14 minutes until sunrise, each time-stamped letter will also appear digitally so audiences can follow the performance online. By sunrise, the letters will be removed from their point of origin at the Church of the Holy Trinity, scattered into the city by anonymous readers, and vanished from the digital face of this site—to say, their physical and psychical weight mirrored, acknowledged, and taken away.

Absolution Letters is both an arrangement and a series of actions, a text and a performance.

It is meant to identify the centre of a world in which we come to blame ourselves for things we cannot control, and like an automatic response, we must be guilty in order to grieve, and we must express that guilt to seek release from it. Sometimes, the search to understand loss becomes a self-absolving and self-absorbing practice, transformed for example into self-harm, self-starvation, and self-suppression. Absolution Letters means that it is not only acceptable, but appropriate, that we express personal loss and the desire for confession and absolution in the open, in free and safe space, and ask for constructive understanding from those around us.

anyway, it is fear that drives us, that brings us close to tears and if I could be tearless like a poem we might still be afraid and we might still fall only to fall apart facing each other because memory cannot soothe, because memory is alive and fiery and frightening the way its fingers coil around the things we have been in that light, that kindness that lives every morning in a cup of Whittard tea or a spoonful of sugar, or that lives every evening in the last book she was reading in that dim light that we cannot speak of even though it is so frighteningly alive in the colour of her old rooms, so frighteningly alike the things we cannot keep.