Andrew Houston, University of Waterloo
The Embodied Archive in the Mush Hole Project
The Mush Hole Project is an immersive, site-specific art and performance installation event and collaborative project, taking place at the site of the first residential school in Canada, that sought responses from artists that question the following: Apartheid, Assimilation, Decolonization, Education, Genocide, Intergenerational Trauma, the Mohawk Institute, Nourishment, Reconciliation, and Truth. In this presentation of the project, I want to consider how the Mush Hole Project offered spectators an opportunity to become not only witnesses, but participants who played an active role in experiencing the site as each person was invited to embody different meanings of the site. As the animation of this site becomes less an event ruled by artistic curation of what is seen in this place of archive, and more an embodied engagement with the site as an actual place, the potential for new understanding of this residential school and the forces of colonization emerges.
Andrew Houston is an artist-researcher in intermedia and site-specific performance, and an Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Waterloo. Over the last nineteen years, he has directed and dramaturged several large-scale site-specific, intermedia productions. His latest work, Mush Hole Project (2016), is a multimedia, site-specific art installation that engages with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 recommendations on the legacies of residential schools. In support of the Save the Evidence campaign, the performance was held at the site of the first residential school in Canada. Houston also directed and dramaturged Voicemale (2013) a multimedia, site-specific performance exploring a First Nations woman’s struggle to define her identity. He has further edited a Canadian Theatre Review issue on site-specific performance and authored: “Dis-ing the Main Drag and Walking toward the Public Good in Here Be Dragons: Mapping Queer, Asian-Canadian Identity in Kitchener, Ontario.”