Thursday, December 15, 2011


Greenham women
24" x 18"
oil on canvas, 2011
Those of you that regularly check into the posts on this blog know about my preoccupation with mournful singing by women, keening as it is called in Ireland. Slowly I'm developing a collection of recordings from all over the world that fit this category. True keening recordings are hard to come by (officially the practice of keening is extinct) and this recording by women from Greenham is the best example I've come across yet. It's a news video made by the British newspaper The Guardian. On it the Greenham women, about thirty of them, can be seen and heard keening while protesting nuclear power on the occasion of Ronald Reagan's visit to England in 1981. The woman had marched from the Greenham military base to Parliament Square in London. Sixteen of them were arrested on arrival. The recording marks the second occurrence of a musical performance broken up by police (see "Guatemala" for the first one) in the current Top 100, and the third example of cry-singing (also keen, wail, or lament). In the painting Parliament Square is replaced with an image of my own back yard, as has become habit lately.

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