Boston's drinking water flows over a history of colonization and forced evacuation. In “Memory Flow/Water of Boston” the Talking Wings revives layers of memory and systemic violence that are submerged under the Quabbin Reservoir. The Swift River Valley (Nipmuc Territory) was home to two major displacements. The indigenous communities that inhabited the area were replaced by the pioneer towns, after suffering violent attacks that led to their genocide. The pioneer towns were also eventually removed for Boston to build a 'safe' and pristine body of drinking water.
During their at Goddard College in March 2018, Talking Wings installed a labyrinth of memory and history inside the the spaces they inhabit. A labyrinthine structure of plastic membranes, pictures suspended in water, paper cutouts and projected textures will turn the space into a memory chamber. The space tells the multilayered histories of colonization, environmental destruction and economic starvation that lie at the bottom of the Quabbin. Water textures and sounds saturate the space, inviting the audience/collaborator to explore the depths of drowned history.
Similar to a living organism, the space responds to the audience’s intrusion. In a flow of constant movement, live performers lead the audience members/collaborators to the center of the maze. During this process, the history of the myriad displacements is told through shadow stories projected on the walls of the labyrinth. From the center of the maze emanates a visceral and improvised sonic piece, performed by two musicians who vocally loop ambiance of water and memory loss. Once they audience/collaborators arrives at the center of the labyrinth they encounter four containers full of “Quabbin Water,” in which pictures taken in the displaced towns of Prescott, Greenwich, Dana and Enfield lie submerged.
It is the audiences/collaborators task to extract the pictures from the water, before the ephemeral images are washed away. The audience members can take the images with them, for now that they have retrieved the memory, it is their responsibility to keep it alive and breathing.