Love Letters (2012 - 2018)
Love Letters was a multimedia project in the form of an installation of letters, conceived by artist Yiota Demetriou. The project toured for six years.
The project combined performance, soundscape design, installation art, and letter writing. It involved sharing private memories, exhibiting public histories, and used audience participation and the act of storytelling.
The original form of the piece invited audience members to write anonymous love letters to a significant other using the four types of Greek love: Agape, Eros, Filia, Storge.
In turn, the audiences selected and read aloud other audiences’ love letters (from the bank of letters collected from each performance); they inscribed the name of the sender and the addressee on the performer’s dress and/or body and furthermore pinned the narrated letter onto the dress.
From being re-performed, the current love letters collection holds more than 350 audience letters. Past audiences’ letters are reactivated in each performance, and new love letters are written and added to the collection.
Since 2012, it has taken the shape of a performance lecture, a sound installation and a durational, performance installation.
The performance’s shape may have shifted several times, however, the work’s main content – which through every performance emerges from the very act of participation, engagement and interaction of the audience – remains unchanged.
It has been performed over the course of 6 years at internationally renowned performance festivals, conferences and venues such as: Pervasive Media Studio (2018), Museum of Broken Relationships (Zagreb, Croatia, 2017), MIX 2017, Performing Documents (2012), Performance and Live Art Platform (2012, 2014), Tempting Failure (2013, 2014), Arnolfini, (2014), Latitude (2015), and iDocs (2016), Point Centre for Contemporary Arts (2014).
The dress worn in every performance is the same. It is ‘stained’ with the past and present audiences’ contributions, playing with the notions of presence and absence. As described the audience would note the name of the sender and the addressee on the garment and or the performer’s body.
Additionally, the dress also contains ‘memo’-type messages that people left on it, for others to see and perhaps to not see. Thus, the dress is a crucial component of the performance. It becomes part of the audience member’s recollections, not only as given traces of past written and narrative acts but also as an in-between, a mediator, of what was said and what was lost.
It became a vessel that embodied audiences’ intimate stories. The dress witnesses the different tellings and shares a different type of intimacy with each and every audience member that has interacted with it.
In collaboration with Electronics Engineer Odysseas Pappa and Composer/Sonic Artist Stathis Kampylis, the Love Letters dress was redeveloped into a freestanding interactive sound installation, which was augmented with recordings of the letters from the existing collection, enabling recordings and narratives.
Audience members were invited to follow the initial process of writing a letter and to engage with the dress and the performer by reading another letter from the collection and pinning it to the dress. The audience’s engagement with the dress triggers a reaction where the dress narrates another story from the love letters collection.