with Miyuki Kasahara
@ The Belfry, St John's Church, Bethnal Green, London
A site specific installation created by Jude Cowan Montague and Miyuki Kasahara.
A collaboration looking at how women express themselves in the face of societal persecution. The two artists use installation, moving image, poetry and performance to interpret stories from Lancashire and Tokyo.
The Tower is a symbol of belief, death, power and love. It is a romantic image which may lend a supernatural scale to tales. It adds a strong sense of drama, even mysticism to ordinary story.
In the infamous Pendle witch trials of 1612 twenty persons, including sixten women, were committed to trial and ten were executed at Lancaster. The fear of evil witchcraft and anger at the injustice of the proceedings have loomed over the Lancashire hills and local imagination for centuries. The witches supposedly met in Malkin Tower, the home of the Demdike and her granddaughter Alison Device.
Jude draws on these stories for poetry and the 3D installation.
The physical tower at Rivington Pike was a formative landmark in her sense of landscape. It was erected on the site of one of the beacons that spanned England as an early warning system. It was set up in the 12th century following a Scottish raid and was lit on 19 July 1588 to signal that the Spanish Armada was approaching. The landmark Pike Tower was built as a hunting lodge in the 18th century. However, growing up Jude always associated this tower with Malkin Tower, although Malkin Tower may have been nothing more than a poor cottage.
Miyuki is inspired by two incidents in Tokyo. a girl called Oshichi met and fell in love with a boy during a great fire in 1681. The next year she attempted arson on her family house in the vain hope that the crisis would bring the boy back to her. This was a serious crime in this epoch and she was burned at the stake for her actions. When this was made into a romantic poem, she is shown regretting her actions and climbing a tower to sound a drum to raise the alarm.
In 1995 the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo released Sarin gas on the Tokyo subway in an attack supposedly aimed at the Japanese government. This killed thirteen, severely injured fifty and caused vision injuries to nearly a thousand people. The founder, Shoko Asahara, was sentenced to death in 2004. In July 2013 his third daughter, who was eleven years old at the time of the incident, began a confessional blog about her infamous father.
Jude and Miyuki draw on these stories for a multi-media Tower installation.
With thanks to Matt Armstrong and Calum F. Kerr for technical assistance.
Performances by Jo Roberts, Tina Hibbins, Miyuki Kasara, Calum F. Kerr, Phillip Raymond Goodman, Atsuko Kamura, Steve Moyes, Graham Dowdall and Jude Cowan Montague
Photos by Miyuki Kasahara