The Edge Of Peace was a multimedia presentation held in Confederation Park during the evenings leading up to Remembrance Day. A Montreal production company was behind this project, which used light, music, actors, and a series of spherical globes set up around the fountain. The presentation, marking the centennial of the end of World War One, was a fourteen minute show that ran through the evenings. In between, a few minutes would pass, and images were shown on the globes, both contemporary and period, such as this image of mothers commemorating lost sons.
The presentation weaves together a contemporary composer dealing with her own loss as she tries to compose a song paying tribute to those who fell in battle a century ago, with actors playing the part of several soldiers (including an indigenous soldier) from the war, reciting their words. The spoken words, alternating between English and French, were projected in both languages onto one of the globes throughout.
The first time I took in the show was the night it opened, one week before Remembrance Day, and I happened upon it as this image was projected- a soldier speaks of his war experience, superimposed with the haunting painting Ghosts Of Vimy Ridge, Walter Longstaff's painting that depicts the WWI battle site memorial at night, with ghosts rising up out of the ground. The painting is in the collection of the Canadian War Museum.
"They called, I answered" was a phrase commonly used through the presentation by these soldiers. The men of a century ago went through hell itself- and some of them, lying about their age- were more boys than men, forged through fire into soldiers, watching many of their own fall in battle.
The war's end is noted in the remarks by this soldier, relating a common experience: being in Mons, Belgium on the 11th of November, knowing that the cease fire was coming at 11 in the morning, waiting, biding your time with your friend, trying to keep the civilians from coming out of their homes... and hearing the crack of a sniper rifle minutes before the clock ran out, and knowing that while you were heading home, your friend was not. The sequence had a particular poignance.
The presentation ends with the composer having had found the right words to pay tribute, in a song that uses the name of the presentation as its title. She sings the song, with the soldiers projected onto another globe as chorus- check out my video here. I found the presentation moving, impressive, and very effective in conveying the cost of that war on those left behind. From the photographer's point of view, it also made for a compelling subject, just right for this time of year. Tomorrow I start turning my attention to this year's national service and Remembrance Day events.