the then + the now = now time

“We will inhabit a concept of remembering as an act of responsibility. An act that in turn is ultimately liberating and healing.”
Elaine Mitchener

Elaine Mitchener | Concept & Music
Dam Van Huynh | Direction & Choreography
Antony Hateley | Lighting Design
Ben Marc | Studio Technician
Tommaso Petrolo | Production Assistance

Premiered 25 March 2019 at silent green, Kuppelhalle – Berlin

the then + the now = now time is an exploration of Walter Benjamin’s notion of “Eingedenken” – a historical consciousness in which the past is not understood and glorified as something closed and complete; a form of remembering that emphasizes the past’s relentless presence. Against the mediating, conciliatory thrust of Erinnerung (memory), Eingedenken remains true to suffering in the past by refusing reconciliation with past wrongs.

Mitchener’s artistic work as a vocalist, movement artist and composer is permeated by the awareness of past and present forms of discrimination, post-colonial wounds and its effect on humanity. the then + the now = now time is an artistic quest to politicize the past, undoing and unsettling time and space using music and movement.

Commissioned by MaerzMusik – Festival für Zeitfragen

Director’s Note
The Then + The Now = Now Time is a sensory of remembrance laid in the space not as an act of aggression but as a active reminder of an ongoing conversation that has not passed.
As a long time collaborator of the incredible vocal and movement artist Elaine Mitchener, I felt it was vital to approach this work and the theme with sensitive attention to her activist role as a female British artist of Afro-Caribbean heritage. My directorial and choreographic approach to this work was to present to Elaine a series  of comments and questions both physical and metaphorical pertaining to her cultural history, social impacts upon her as a black female British artist, personal sense of discovery and the ideas that drive her within the performing space. I asked Elaine to vocally respond reflecting the movement of these memories as a responsibility to bring to the forefront a conversion of historical topics, images, sounds and ideas that should never be forgotten. Coming from a choreographic background, in this work,  I depict the sense of memories according to the way they move: ghost like lingering from a proximity, sharp and exacting, entangled, powerfully still and racing like a speeding train hurling from afar. Dam Van Huynh


“Her performance at Silent Green – an old crematorium converted into a cultural center – hit hard.” Steve Smith, National Sawdust —> Read

Previous dates:

25 March 2019 – silent green, Kuppelhalle, MaerzMusik Festival – Berlin, Germany
9 September 2020 – Maschinenhaus, Ruhrtriennale, Essen – Germany
2 September 2021 – Wigmore Hall, London – UK
18 November 2021 – Kulturbunker Mülheim, Cologne – Germany


Photo credit:
Adam Janisch