This site specific shadow play and installation explores a shipwreck that occurred off of Mt.Desert Island in Frenchman Bay in 1867. It honors lives that are intertwined with the sea, and lives that have been lost to it. The work is partially created and cast with students staff and faculty at College of the Atlantic and many other members of the Mt. Desert Island community.
More About Flotsam
“Flotsam”, an installation and shadow play performance premiered at Otter Creek Hall, Mt. Desert Island Maine in the fall of 2009. It is the second in a series of pieces that are focused on the landscape, history and folklore of Mt. Desert Island and sited specifically in various locations on the island at different times of the year.
This "performance installation/visual opera" is structured around a marine disaster that occurred July 25th, 1867 out near Egg Rock in Frenchman's Bay, off the coast of Mt. Desert Island. There is a humble plaque in St. Saviour's Episcopal church in Bar Harbor commemorating the event. It was given to the church in honor of two of the passengers - a Miss Mary Elizabeth Houpt, and a Miss Mary Elizabeth Tazewell - by their students at the Normal School in Philadelphia (Founded as a Teacher's college, it became the High School for Girls.) Nine passengers were returning from Bar Harbor to their lodgings at the Island House in Southwest Harbor, when a gale whipped up and capsized their sloop. All were lost with the exception of one Miss Julia Blake. This is the basis for a whimsical reconstruction that weaves in themes of Darwin and evolution, painting in picturesque America, the three fates, destiny, Victorian hairstyles, chaos, social/cultural events of the 1860's and the accouterment of undersea exploration. It takes the form of sculptural vignettes, live performance, musical numbers and a shadow play performance.
"Flotsam" alternately explores the human impulse to "launch ourselves into the unknown" and honors those who live in proximity to the sea, make their livelihood from it, or may have been "lost at sea".
The work is cast with students, staff and faculty at College of the Atlantic and many other members of the Mt. Desert Island community. The proceeds of donations benefit the Otter Creek Aid Society.
The three performance works to date that I have created for Mt. Desert Island; “Suite Limpet” (2012), "Flotsam" (09/2011), and Graupel" (07), are an attempt to sleuth out and insert, or conjure, a sense of "hidden", or unusual, stories of human activity in the landscape. Most of the island lies within Acadia National Park - a highly controlled environment that has been largely stripped of any evidence of previous human use, and one that serves to guide and focus visitor's experience and interaction with natural elements. Little remains to remind us that humans are intrinsically connected to this place - through the living out of their lives in extreme climate, and through striving to eek out an existence over the course of time. My aim is to call attention to the places instances where humans and nature intertwine, both.
Check out some video of the performance here: https://vimeo.com/44474324