A mourning in the commons Remembrance Day ritual performed by a volunteer ensemble of twenty-five, “Shot at Dawn” is a tribute to the Canadian First World War soldiers who were killed by firing squads made up of their peers, under the orders of their military commanders. Each performer is offered a shot of rum before having their hands bound, their eyes blindfolded, and a small white target pinned over their heart. Each blindfold has embroidered onto it the name of one the twenty-five World War I Canadian Soldiers who were executed — for desertion, cowardice, and murder. As the details of each execution are read out loud, the participant bearing that soldier’s name has a red X sewn onto the cloth target covering their heart. After all twenty-five participants have been eXecuted; the cloth that binds their hands is cut, they remove their blindfolds and targets, leaving the remains on the spot on which they stood.
The first of an ongoing series of “Embroidery for the Forgotten Dead of History” memorial projects “Shot at Dawn” uses embroidery to draw attention to the narratives that are produced through the nationalist and militarist commemorative practices which act as frames that inscribe certain events and losses into social memory, while casting “others” (events and populations) beyond the realm of our (dominant) collective memory.
Articles about Shot at Dawn
“Spinning Feminist Voices: Feminist Fibres Performance at hub 14″, an interwoven descriptive text written by Alla Myzelev and Kesly Vivash in response to FEMINIST FIBRES performance event (curated by Adriana Disman) that Shot at Dawn was privileged to be included in.
Shot at Dawn and Unravel are both included in War Imagery in Women’s Textiles: An International Study of Weaving, Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Rug Making and Other Fabric Arts, by art historians Deborah A. Deacon and Paula E. Calvin.
Vosters, Helene. “Shot at Dawn.” Emergency Index: Volume 3: 2013. Edited by Yelena Gluzman. New York: Ugly Duckling Press. 536-37.