The final (short) week of The Thesis is Present(ed) saw things to the finishing line, and beyond, even to the final footnote. Traffic in the UWH was slow to begin, but by Wednesday there was a steady stream of guests and visitors, many of them new to the project, and by the week’s end, there were even some repeat readers. Central parts of the text demanded intense focus from some, and acts of virtuosity and courage from others. At one point, Mattie Sempert “dove” for words and phrases and meaning from within pallid pages of text in a fading micro font. At another Francesca Rendle-Short gave a polyphonic delivery of an extremely tricky chapter called Please Supply Own Title.
Such acts of reciprocity and generosity were a part of the experience at every step of the way.
The final day was a thrilling ride, full of mystery, coincidence, ceremony and high and low art. An improvised rendition of Missa Pro Venerabilibus featured as many bells and whistles as could be mustered, with visitors, including Julienne van Loon, pressed into service as lectors to give impromptu readings. The final page of the dissertation proper was delivered, via Skype from Dublin, by Irish artist and theatre-maker Gina Moxley who read as coda, Prayer, by the late Judith Wright. Celebrations followed, including an hour-long polyphonic rendition of the full Reference List and all eight Appendices, followed by the Colophon and Closing Thanks. These afterwords were delivered, tag team, by about eight different readers, with some comings and goings, but with Michelle Aung Thin and Else Fitzgerald holding “through lines” throughout.
And thus, the thesis was present(ed), 437 pages in all, with every last word given voice. Peta Murray would like to extend her gratitude to all who supported this residency and were part of this experiment in re-sounding a text. She plans to share more findings of the project with the Lab in due course.