Performing Mourning: Laments in Contemporary Art

Guy Cools



The pandemic has made us keenly aware of the fragility of life and the need to properly mourn the dead. Here, in a poetic, meandering and intimate style, theorist and dramaturg Guy Cools explores cultural rituals and artists’ performances to examine the many forms of lament. He delves into artistic strategies to address or express mourning; collective mourning rituals and how they invite communities to witness loss; contemporary examples of laments entailing dialogue with both the dead and with loved ones absent because of migration or exile; the very particular kind of mourning that occurs when we grieve for the unrealized potential of a child, such as an unborn child; and finally, lamenting the loss of a future.
Guy Cools is a Belgian critic, curator and dramaturg currently living in Vienna. With the Canadian choreographer Lin Snelling he developed an improvised performance practice, Rewriting Distance, that focuses on the integration of movement, voice and writing.

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