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Memento Mori ("Remember you must die")

Julie Rada, an umbrella for the emotional rain
Julie Rada
Photo: coloradodrama.com
 
Grief comes in many forms and, art aside, no one has delineated its characteristics better than Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her model of its five stages ...

Kubler-Ross grief cycle

 

... to which Kübler-Ross' research partner, David Kessler, added a sixth stage: Finding Meaning in Death.

In a mesmerizing performance, Julie Rada explores all this in silent movement to Kenny Storms' atmospheric performance score, in the storefront of the Savoy at Curtis Park, while we watch from the sidewalk and street.

Rada explained the context of the piece in a recent interview with Westword:

This performance is an experimental offering: I'm thinking of the five stages as the structure, and that the sixth stage is exactly why I make art—to offer something up to the audience out of which to construct meaning.

Julie Rada, bargaining
Julie Rada, bargaining
Photo: coloradodrama.com
 
Symbolism plays a major role in the performance, with Rada wearing a black slip and mask during the descent, and later white attire and mask during the ascent, as well as a length of muslin unraveled as baggage from a suitcase, memories in the forms of mementos (a music box with a spinning ballerina, a photo, a baseball), followed by a ritual cleansing.

While Rada did not engender the piece in reference to recent events, it is obviously relevent to a slew of heinous acts, as well as the entire spectrum of global dysfunction.

Julie Rada, through the looking glass
Julie Rada, through the looking glass
Photo: coloradodrama.com
 
What Rada sees in the mirror is a reflection of our own response to the death of individuals in our lives as well as to the death of our own lifestyle and that of much of the world, never to be seen again, in the age of manufactured Covid-19, police and military violence and racism, economic resets, and, hopefully, the awakening of the masses to the objectives of those attempting to orchestrate a fully dystopian reality.

As Rada noted, her performance is a means of moving through the grief generated by experiences:

Think of Memento Mori as an opportunity for people to come to terms with the uncertainties of life. "It's an invitation to look at the reality of death, look it in the eye and say, "Am I ready?"—to have some recognition that one's time is short.

Julie Rada bearing the weight of grief
Julie Rada bearing the weight of grief
Photo: coloradodrama.com
 
Grapefruit Lab's presentation of Memento Mori, created and performed by Julie Rada, runs Thursdays through Sundays, through July 25th, at 8:30 PM, at the Savoy at Curtis Park, 2700 Arapahoe Street. Admission is free, and complete attendance of the 75-minute performance is not required.

Bob Bows



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