SHOT AT DAWN
A mourning in the commons ritual performed by a volunteer ensemble of 25, “Shot at Dawn” is a tribute to the Canadian First World War soldiers who were killed by firing squads made up of their peers under the orders of their military commanders. Each performer is offered a shot of rum before having their hands bound, their eyes blindfolded and a small white target pinned over their heart. Each blindfold has embroidered onto it the name of one of the 25 Canadian soldiers who were executed—for desertion, cowardice and murder. As the details of each execution are read out loud, the participant bearing that soldier’s name has a red X sewn onto the cloth target covering their heart. After all 25 participants have been executed, the cloth that binds their hands is cut and they remove their blindfolds and targets, and leave the remains on the spot on which they stood.
The preview performance of “Shot at Dawn” took place as part of a LINK & PIN Feminist Fibres performance event at Hub 14 and was followed by a Remembrance Day performance ritual that took place at dawn on the boulevard in front of Ontario’s Legislative Building as part of WIAproject: Babble (Babel). The first of an ongoing series of “Embroidery for the Forgotten Dead of History” memorial projects, “Shot at Dawn” uses embroidery to draw attention to the narratives that are produced through nationalist and militarist commemorative practices, which act as frames that inscribe certain events and losses into social memory while casting “others” (events and populations) beyond the realm of our (dominant) collective memory.