‘Live from the Rowan Tree and the International Space Station: A Celebratory Gathering’ – Michelle Atherton in conversation at the Borrowed Time symposium

Rowan Tree by Eeno11 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org_w_index.php_curid= next to Borrowed TIme symposium info

Michelle Atherton is in conversation about her participatory event: Live from the Rowan Tree and the International Space Station: A Celebratory Gathering at the Borrowed Time: on death, dying and change symposium on Monday 01 November.

As a prequel Zoom event for the symposium, Live from the Rowan Tree… took the form of a Celebratory Gathering on the evening of 15 October. The session explored how we might publicly acknowledge the lives of those no longer living, beyond the funeral and the obituary. Asking how, in secular European cultures, do we bestow significance on a life and mark the lives of the dead? If what is important about life is how it is lived, how do we collectively judge what is consequential, what counts, what really matters? Equally, how do we move away from anthropocentric views on the worth or value of the life of other species and other organisms?

To address these questions participants were invited to celebrate, in their own way, friends, loved ones or anyone, any organism or anything no longer in existence and in so doing pay tribute to the full spectrum of life and matter. From the recently or long-since deceased to those that are now extinct, extinguished and forgotten, whether human or not. During the gathering participants shared their tributes through whatever form they wished, whether through testimony, stories, song, tears, toasts, chanting, recipes, contestation, poetry, imagery or silence…

The aim of the gathering was to collectively create an audible space for the dead to be with the living; to give participants a chance to celebrate the lives and impact of people or non-human life; to register those that might be overlooked or not considered significant.

The event marks the beginning of a new research project considering our relationships with transience, ecologies of burial and how decompositions is a generative, more-than-human process.

Michelle Atherton will discuss the event with its participants at the Borrowed Time Symposium.

Live from the Rowan Tree and the International Space Station: A Celebratory Gathering
Monday 01 November 2021, 1530-1600
For more information and how to book please see the event website here.

The Borrowed Time: on death, dying and change symposium runs from Sunday 31 October – Tuesday 02 November 2021 and is organised by art.earth and The Dark Mountain Project.

Image credit: Rowan Tree by Eeno11 – Own work, European Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) photographed at dawn in October 2008 in Co. Wicklow in Ireland. Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0.

Michelle Atherton‘s work considers particular moments or sets of conditions in our collective histories. I commonly use a remix aesthetic, incorporating sound, image, text, lighting effects and collaborative strategies to create fragmented narratives as hooks to explore our slippery perceptions of the world. The aim is look again at matters that seem settled, beyond question, but where inherent instability opens into other questions of material states, refusals, politics and new imaginaries.

Michelle’s artwork and research has been supported by the Arts Council UK and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and shown throughout Europe in variety of contexts including galleries and museums, festivals, and conferences, and via publication. Michelle is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art and a researcher in the Art, Design & Media Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.