Tidal spaces: choreographies of remembrance and forgetting

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This article explores the potential of tidal spaces to perform acts of remembrance and forgetting. Using oceanographer Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea to contextualise tidal spaces, this analysis will discuss how constantly shifting and eroding coastlines act as a site for writing, rewriting and performing acts of cultural and personal memory. The concept of tidal choreographies will be introduced via two contemporary works performed on shorelines: 14-18 NOW’s Pages of the Sea, a large-scale public memorial performed on multiple beaches across the United Kingdom on Remembrance Sunday 2018; and Chloe Smith’s Tidal, an intergenerational, participatory, community work which was performed on the shore at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 2015. I will offer reflections on my own collaborative work Tide Times created with Tim Cooper to explicate ideas of the potential of tidal spaces (in this case a tidal island) further. In explicating various artworks which explore ideas of remembrance using tidal spaces, this article will also acknowledge the forgetting that is implicit in performing these actions. The markings in the sand are washed away, community groups that participate in the performance disperse and detritus left is eroded by the elements. What can the legacy of commemorations traced in such a transient and precarious space as a tidal zone be? This article argues that while shorelines provide sites for large and small-scale acts of public remembering, they are simultaneously acts of forgetting as the twice-daily tides cause inevitable erasure.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalCultural Geographies
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 11 May 2020