On Friday the 8th of March, Globe Gallery will host the 52nd performance of Anniversary –An Act of Memory, a series of solo, collective and multilingual recitations from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Artist Monica Ross performed the first recitation in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Declaration. Since then her project has expanded phenomenally; over the years, hundreds of people from around the world have lent their voices to this celebration of the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
When I heard that Globe would be hosting the event, I was inspired by the concept and excited to become involved. Reading through the press release, Monica’s words on her own inspiration really struck a chord:
“I went to read the Declaration for the first time… I got one sentence in and I was so shocked at my own complacency – one, that I had never read it; two, that I assumed that I knew what it said, but I didn’t…”
I realised that the same was true of me. I seem to recall seeing a poster of it in some school corridor, long ago. I might have skimmed over the Wikipedia page once or twice. But had I ever actually read it? Had I ever taken the time to think about the gravity and importance of the declaration, had I ever considered its relevance to my own life? No. Not once. Following this revelation, Monica Ross decided to “try and learn it off by heart to see if I could make it part of [her]”. I wanted it to be a part of me, too. And I wanted to be a part of it.
The value of Acts of Memory lies not only in its veneration of human rights but also in its celebration of the diversity of language, and its inclusion of all human beings through reaching out to those whose language does not have a written counterpart – specifically the Deaf community. As a language student, this held a particular resonance with me.
Today we met up with Michelle Hirschorn, the project’s producer, and Nicky Harrison, the PR director, to discuss our plans for the project. My initial inspiration and excitement was reinforced by their own enthusiasm, and I endeavoured to get as many people involved as possible, using the Durham University network to reach out to people from all cultures, backgrounds and fields of interest. After all, as Monica Ross recognised, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is of inherent importance to us all, as individuals and as part of the human race.
Tags: "acts of memory" "performance" "human rights" community