Project: the woodcutter project
Year the project commenced: 2010
Year it became impossible: It lingers, weakly.
Form: A performance project for a female woodcutter
Background: "In 2010 I meet a man whose father was on trial for murdering his mother with an axe. To be precise his father was accused and later found guilty of striking his mother 37 times to the head (just weeks before their 50th wedding anniversary) and then attempting to cover this brutal act by faking a home-burglary. The extraordinary aspect of his story was that my friend still cared deeply for his father, while simultaneously grieving the loss of his mother. It got me thinking about the limits of kinship in the aftermath of family violence – child/parent love stories with a very dark twist.
With the family’s blessing I began to research this story further. I spent several months reading the full court transcripts at the Supreme Court of Victorian – after which I commenced a very lengthy Freedom of Information request process seeking access to the police interview recordings, 000 calls and other submitted audio evidence from the case. Finally, several years later, I was granted a pile of transcript materials and learnt that my audio requests had all been denied. As an audio-based artist, this was very disappointing news. However, from this pile of mostly dry legal documents, the most compelling transcript was the three 000 calls made on the day of the murder between the murderer and emergency services – in which the murderer role-plays a fictionalised version of arriving home to find his wife butchered in a puddle of blood with a phone in her hand."
"Concept: At the heart of this concept is a physically strong older woman (with performer Katia Molino in mind) chopping down a wooden telegraph pole with an axe. She would be mic-ed and her breathing and actions would be the central performance text. The other key source material would be the three 000 calls from the murder case evidence. The intent of the work is a lament, an honoring and a rectification of sorts. An early thought was that an Italian aria may also be involved...
Progress: I have been mulling on this idea in the background for close to 9 years with little progress. I can’t let it go but haven’t been able to land on a convincing rationale for bringing the elements of content and form together. There also feels like another layer to the work is missing. There’s something about lies, dark fables and reclaiming the missing female narrative (as well as a personal tribute to the many Australian woman lost to domestic violence each year) that’s still very compelling to me but it all feels too difficult, sad and delicate to gain traction on. In the time that has passed since seeding the idea, the murderer has died in jail and his son has moved away. However, the Woodcutter concept is still sitting in my back drawer. It lurks there waiting for answers that haven’t arrived." Rosyln Oades, 2018.
Artist: Roslyn Oades
Audio Artist: Bob scott
performer: Katia Molino