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Art Cultural Activism Requiem for a Passing Age

Genesis in Three Performances

A year ago, I was in the depth of a depression, suicidal thoughts would pass through me, a sadness over take me when looking at the state of the world and what the probable almost certain future would look like for my child. I felt powerless. I was in the process of mourning Modernity. A whirlpool of feelings going from denial, anger, resentment to resignation. I could not find a way out. I had lost my way, I had lost my will.

In the depth of the mud, the buds appeared, the germing lotus started to emerge out. It was clear to me that my self expression was through art – so I created that the following year I would have an exhibition in Florence, the city of my heart. Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a personal renaissance but also the opening for my path into a greater Renaissance, one for the world.

After the Performance of Requiem for a Passing age I in Thénac – March 2022

Even earlier, in 2020 I was starting to create Requiem for a Passing Age with Simon Longstaff. But there was a real reluctance to share it because, deep down, I knew that if the requiem was not followed with an act of creation it would just leave us with a sense of being stuck in the mud of modernity. 

Then I felt a deep need to let go, which gave rise to the first performance in Thenac of the Requiem of a Passing Age, in which I burn clothes into a large fire and ask the audience what they needed to let go so they could burn it to. A weight lifted from my shoulder, my ghosts received their offering so they were finally at rest.

Performance of Requiem for a Passing age I in Thénac – March 2022

The second performance was looking at the state of the world, incarnating that part of me and humanity that does not want to look at what is happening but I yet hope for the act of creation of a new path, it did not emerge during this piece.

Performance of Requiem for a Passing age II in Thénac – April 2022

Which then takes me to the third performance Prophecy that took place in Florence. This included the work of both previous performances looking at the probable almost certain future, letting go of something and, finally, a stand for a third dimension that arises: what would be next? What would be a future worth dying for – and therefore worth living for? What would it look like? What else could be possible?

What I saw possible was that human beings could grow and rise. That this is available in the depth of winter: even when no life seems to be rising, life is still in there under the skin of the branches and that spring appears from one day to another. Life is something that just opens up. That after the black death, the renaissance arose.

And as I became a mother two and half year ago I could birth something into existence that for each genesis there is a request for something to die. That I was gifted with an incredible opening where the life force passes through me and speak through me, that all I need to do is to keep it open so that the one desiring to see can be touch by it and that ultimately I do know that we all want this, we all want possibility and we just need to give space to our resignation to compost it so that a new garden grows.

Performance Prophecy – Florence May 2022


Genesis of a Renaissance
Humanity will pursue inner growth instead of material growth.
We will mature our collective understanding of consciousness.
Faith and science will re-entwine.
Forest will be planted, animals will return.
We will heal, mourn and integrate our past.
Listening will be cultivated, talent will be recognised.
Wisdom will be valued and spoken of.
A new experience of being human will open up.

[Sing]

Liberation alive
All can thrive
Forests will rise
The wheel turns
The soul returns
Flowers in the ground
Food goes around
Birds soar in the sky
Whales sing in the sea
Hope lights a candle
We take on the mantle
Burning strong
We all belong
To this future we make

Poetry by Sylvie Barbier and Rufus Pollock May 2022

By Sylvie Shiwei Barbier

Sylvie Shiwei Barbier is an Artist and Co-founder of Life Itself