** 20 Minute film Directed and Produced by Sue Murad in collaboration with Maria Molteni (If interested in screening the film please contact avemariamolteni at Gmail dot com, 5 minute clip of film included in this section)
The Sirens, says one, are the charms of the Gulf of Naples. No, says another; they were chaste priestesses. They were neither chaste nor priestesses, but exactly the reverse. They were sunbeams. They were perilous cliffs. They were a race of peaceful shepherds. They were symbols of persuasion. They were cannibals. They were planetary spirits. They were prophets. They were a species of Oriental owl. They were the harmonious facilities of the soul. They were penguins.
- Siren Land by Norman Douglas
Spec- ta- cle (n): a visually striking performance or public display / a central notion in situationist theory, the mass media in its most glaring and superficial manifestation / (pn) an object resembling eyeglasses
Spectacle Island, named for it’s resemblance to a pair of glasses, was initially composed of two small drumlins connected by a spit. For hundreds of years Native Americans came to the island to fish and gather clams. Since the 18th Century the island has served as a smallpox quarantine, a horse rendering facility, and Boston's primary garbage dump. Two technological earth mounds, created using spoil from the Big Dig, filled out the island’s figure. It now resembles an ear. Terraced with spiral-shaped walking paths, roads and vegetation, it is home to a pair of coyotes, one wild turkey, and a healthy population of red-winged blackbirds.
Molteni and Spriggs invite visitors to arrive on Spectacle Island willing to participate in a day of way-finding and sensory reorientation. Conducting both dizzying and remedial movements of the body, they re-trace the island's history and topography via a navigation of the inner ear's cochlea. Addressing relationships to collective sea-sickness, vertigo and alarm-reception, the duo adopt the nebulous identity of archetypal Sirens. Masked as Red-Winged Blackbirds, in response to the theory of the *Bird Termination* by which mythological Sirens are considered distasteful commoners and transformed into fledglings, the artists provoke the public to join in ritual protests of disruption, awakening and healing.
Prompted by Alice Vogler and Vela Phelan’s performance series Time, Body, Space, Objects IV the eight-our performance begins with the early morning ferry out to the Island and concludes upon the last ferry's return to Boston's wharf. The event is accompanied by a self-published island guide and dictionary of applied terms: Bird Termination, Canal, Cochlea, Conch, Geotropism, Inner Ear, Nausea, Nystagmus, Orientation, Otolith, Red-Winged Blackbird, Resonance, Siren, Spectacle, Stereocilia, Sound, Supine, Synesthesia, Vertigo, Vestibule.
Hermione Spriggs and Maria Molteni met in 2010 during a residency for beekeeping artists. Spriggs hails from York, England but recently conducted research on sirens and warning systems on the ear-shaped island of Santorini. The spiritual and ecological environment of Boston has sparked local artist Molteni’s interest in coastal spectronomy and preservation among muses like Bumpkin Island and Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel. The two artists share a passion for island lore, superstition, animism and performative research. They invited visitors to arrive on Spectacle Island willing to participate in a day of way-finding and sensory reorientation centered around the inner ear’s cochlea and its relationship to collective sea-sickness, vertigo, and alarm-reception. Their collaboration will positioned the duo as archetypal Sirens who perform disruption, awakening and healing.
Sue Murad was born in New Hampshire and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design with departmental honors in Sculpture. She went on to form Orange, a six-year art & design collaborative working extensively with the Boston Public Libraries and co-producing several bodies of multi-disciplinary work. Throughout 2003, Murad orchestrated bi-weekly undercover improvisational performances at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 2004 joined the performance art band, UV Protection, for which she won a 2008 Massachusetts Cultural Council award in Choreography. In addition, UV headlined the Channel 4 stage for Boston’s First Night, made the cover of Performer magazine, and was a 2007 Boston Music Awards nominee. When the band ended, Murad turned her studio into a library, and for three years studied ancient history, cross-referencing her findings. This season led to the creation of two art books, Ruth and Passover, and two large scale works of performance art: Museum, an undercover performance at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Buried: Funerals and Other Formal Arrangements overlooking Boston's historic Granary Burial Ground. In 2012, Murad created a companion performance to Rough Shape at Samson Projects, and in 2013 performed monthly at curated dinner events hosted by fellow artist Jessica Gath and Christo Wood. After two years as an Artist-in-Resident at Boston Children’s Hospital, Sue is now working as a freelance videographer and continues to work in performance, sculpture, collage and film. Her travels through Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Dubai, Jordan, Israel, London, India, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, Canada, and Mexico have greatly informed her perspective on art and life. She continues to live in and love Boston.