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A performance piece inspired by the Cadaver Synod 

A research piece inspired by the story of the Cadaver Synod, the ecclesiastical trial of Pope Formosus, who had been already dead by the time of his lawsuit. In 897, several months after the Pope’s death, his successor Pope Stephen VI accused him of perjury and of having acceded to the papacy illegally. At the end of the trial, Formosus was pronounced guilty and his papacy retroactively declared null. His final and most horrendous punishment was the conviction of Damnatio memoriae, condemned to oblivion while his body was dragged through the streets of Rome and thrown into the Tiber. 


In the last few years the concept of “cancel culture” has gone mainstream, as a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles. However, throughout history, there have been many routes to Damnatio Memoriae (Condemnation of Memory), including the destruction of depictions, the removal of names from inscriptions and documents, and even large-scale rewritings of history. This performance piece uses the absurd story of the Cadaver Synod as an initial example of Cancelation, aiming to explore the contradictory function of memory as a punishment or salvation. The paradoxes of memory erasal beg the questions; Does Cancel Culture contribute to people being remembered more than forgotten? Is it fair to have a trial without the defendant present? Does political correctness threaten artistic license?

Are we forgetting the good questions by canceling the wrong answers? 

Alexis Rero DAM 38.jpeg
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