Thursday, July 12, 2012

A serious discussion of " living history"

From one of the founders of DARC:
 Living History - What does it look like? DARC focuses on daily life in the Viking Age. The presentation will centre on a 'camp', with costumed interpreters surrounded by a collection of replica objects consisting of domestic goods, tools, and storage. At the rehearsal, simple overhead covers and tents will mimic the buildings which we will use at L'Anse aux Meadows. Individuals will be outfitted with the tools of their various trades and arts, all representing our real interests and skills. (We really are weavers and cooks, blacksmiths and carvers.) All of the objects seen, from clothing to tents, are based on specific artifact prototypes. To the public, the members of DARC present themselves as actual voices from the past, with shared experiences as a group and direct personal histories. Individual members of DARC have prepared detailed characterizations based on their personal research into the Viking Age, developing considerable expertise in specialized areas. These characters are the 'common man': artisans, merchants or farmers typical of the Norse of the North Atlantic circa 1000 AD. Any conversation is likely to begin at this 'role playing' level of historic interpretation. The interpretive level used is then shifted to suit the needs of individual visitors. Some people delight in talking to a character from 1000 years ago, others are more comfortable with more of a modern commentary. These experienced interpreters are able to handle a wide range of topics and level of detail.
More here.

1 comment:

  1. I find this kind of effort to be both wonderful and appalling at the same time. One of the real difficulties with it is the question of who gets to interpret history - what language will this be in? Are the interpreters Norse? What are the assumptions that fuel this interpretation of artifacts? By interpreting the artifacts, are the actors representing them in a legitimate, or illegitimate way? (e.g. 21st century people use washing machines, but very few of them take much note of the machine or its workings - a reenactment of 21st century life that focused on the washing machine in action would be inappropriate as an interpretation, at best). And L'Anse aux Meadows is a problematic site, literally a moon-shot for the historic time it represents. At the same time, how neat to bask in the authenticity of the artifact collection and to limit modern intrusions.