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About the work

Rheums was conceived, performed and produced in each room of my home between 2019 and 2021 and documents the grieving process in the aftermath of two significant events. 

This work is about how the rooms in one's brain can expand out into the rooms of one's house. It’s about those rooms moving between being a set of cages and a series of stages on which to play out and understand the various layers of hurt and liberation. 

Rheums is a product of arts-based research, conducted through methods of autoethnographic narrative inquiry, to investigate the how experimental approaches to creating autobiographical song, film and writing can lead to autoethnographic work fit for both academic and entertainment contexts. 


I set out to explore ways to maintain a therapeutic, sincere and critically robust research process in order to engage with audience through performance and evoke stories and experiences that were akin to mine yet also potentially broader. I wanted to play with the blurring of the real and the imaginary to see if that helps get closer to truth.


I have focused specifically on using song, spoken dialogue, lens-based visual art and movement in order to explore themes of grief, motherhood, domesticity and the notions of real and false self.


Initially I used Rheums to work through various stages of grief and understand my own feelings, because I think, I was in a kind of shock - and writing, singing, dancing and talking was the only way through it that I knew. The autobiographical quickly became the autoethnographic, I found ways to share the narrative in order to form connection, reaction and exchange with audience, always striving  to try and produce something that would be useful.


This project began as a web-based performance in response to COVID-19 restrictions during 2020 and became a live performance involving musicians and audience participation in 2022. 

 - Lucy Bergman

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