The Message

The Message is a literature meets theatre installation running until Saturday 7th April as part of Fierce Festival. The performance is taking place in the ‘Edible Eastside’, a new development area on the bank of the Grand Union Canal that, when complete, will be a new cultural hub for art in the city.

Seeing great crowds for the opening of The Message on Sunday, the Edible Eastside is certainly quieter in the week, with visitors trickling in to take part in the event. On arriving, all spectators are invited to write their own personal message of Hope or Fear on a notepad, which is then folded to be passed to Eloise Fornieles, the creator of the installation, who is positioned pacing around a large mound of white chalk. On top of this mound is a large rectangular wooden crate, standing tall against the backdrop of east Birmingham’s urban landscape. On taking the messages, Eloise reads, folds, then posts them into the coffin-like crate, ready for a ceremonial burning on Easter Saturday. When burned, the crate will fall away to reveal a marble sculpture that has been encased by the wood and messages, whilst creating an impression of the messages being dispatched to the world.

Having to sit and spontaneously write a personal pearl of wisdom on either hope or fear is a somewhat unusual act in itself, but to then hand this message to Eloise as she circles the sacrificial crate, so ‘in character’ that she appears almost mechanical, creates an experience nothing less than surreal. Despite this, the notion of an interactive audience is a feature that Fierce Festival appears to be increasingly focused on, promoting new ways into art and abandoning the traditional artist/viewer boundaries. The Message is running until the burning of the crate on Saturday (tomorrow), so if you haven’t had a chance to experience it before now, make sure you come along to witness the final stage of this innovative installation. What’s more, the Edible Eastside is certainly a project to watch for the future of the Birmingham arts scene.

Find out more at the Fierce Festival website and Eloise Fornieles’s personal website.

Words and photography by
Anna Lumsden

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