Performance and Installation Design – Marie Davis-Green

Socially conscious dialogical performance that ignites conversation and addresses vital social and humanistic issues is at the heart of my design practice. I am motivated by environmental crises; particularly the immobility caused by spatial constraints, climate change and resource depletions. My four performance installations described below address these concerns and are connected through both content and material, specifically the use of concrete as it relates to climate and social change, building practices and abuse of resources. All four pieces were performed simultaneously and continually looped so spectators and audience could experience each one as both installation and performance. These four performance installations were presented together over the course of three nights.

Loss of Habitat/Loss of Language

As population increases and urban centers expand, more people are leaving rural areas. As a result, seven languages per day are lost, along with habitats, species, resources, and diversity. Rediscovery is the impetus for this performance through word vocalizations associated with aquatic life. Words are “in play” and sound fresh, alive and mobile as they get tossed about, bringing what was extinct, back to life. As the piece progresses and evolves, it degrades. The characters choke on the previously enjoyed consonants and vowels as they re-experience the deaths of words and consequently, suffocation and immobility resumes. Three (3) seated performers were embedded in a thick slab of cement measuring 10’ x 7’. The performance installation was an 8-minute original scripted piece looping over a two-hour time frame. It was designed as a sculptural installation that the audience could view in 360 degrees, repeat, and contemplate as desired. (¼” scale model, video and photographs are available for display)

Frozen Forms

A time-lapse video of an ice block, the average size of a newborn baby, was recorded over a 24-hour period until melted. It is a metaphor for the babies that froze to death in a Kabul refugee camp in 2012. The ice-block was hung and recorded inside the HVAC evaporation room located in the concrete basement level of a LEED certified performance building. The room was open to the elements so the 24-hour video capture recorded the subtle changing weather patterns, whispering wind, and light throughout the day and      night. I made a time-lapse 4-minute video version and placed it inside a large concrete cube so it could be viewed through a peephole. A recording of the sounds of Afghani children singing a traditional Afghan nursery song is faintly heard in the distance. It serves as a mere trace of the babies born into a cruel world with no experiences or sensations in their short-lived lives beyond freezing temperatures. (Concrete cube model, video and photographs are available for display)

The Spirit of Caliban

This script I conceived of and newly adapted, based on Shakespeare’s, The Tempest. In it, Caliban, Prospero and Ariel are the same person. Caliban plays the alternating personalities, brought on by years of isolation and confinement after being stripped of his free will. Limitations of space, economic immobility, and reduced freedoms result in stress, depression and irrational behaviors. Caliban becomes the embodiment of these frustrations and limitations. This was the 3rd performance installation in this concrete series and was performed inside the same HVAC evaporation room as the recorded “Frozen Forms” piece. The audience entered the concrete space wrapped in blankets, as the room was damp and cold. The 15-minute live performance piece looped over a 2-hour time frame. A new small audience of 15 would enter every 15 minutes.


“nothing of him that doth fade, but doth suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange.”
The fourth performance design served as the final culmination in the concrete series. A cellist was placed on the drainage ramp inside the HVAC evaporation room around the corner from Caliban. The ramp was open to the elements. Additional spectators could be seen standing outside on the open metal grid directly above the ramp from inside. As the Caliban piece comes to a close the cellist begins  to play a requiem sitting atop the ramp, a cold dead morgue lain with cement corpses of fish, in orderly and premeditated arrangement.

“and then, in dreaming, the clouds me thought would open, and show riches ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked, (cellist begins) I cried to dream again ……….”