Each vigil stands for us all. As a choreographer, I’m fascinated by making large scale artwork for cities that brings people together. The Vigil asks the question: is it the vigil watching the performance of the city or is the person in the city watching the performance of the vigil?

Joanne Leighton
Choreographer & Director of WLDN

A city where you expect the unexpected!

Freedom Festival, an organisation known for creating the unexpected, is producing The Hull Vigil - the first UK city to host this timely, thought-provoking, large-scale monumental work by Australian-Belgian choreographer Joanne Leighton from Paris-based WLDN.

Over the past eight years, The Vigil has been running continuously in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria and in 2021 it comes to Hull for its 10th performance.

A community project built by Hull for the people of Hull, this is a performance with a narrative that goes deeper throughout the year.

While each vigil stands alone, together they form a human chain and a manifestation of community, humanity and resilience. Something even more significant today amidst these troubling times, as a community, nation and society, we watch over and protect each other, our cities and our planet.

Standing alone but together, each vigil will step inside the bespoke wood and glass structure, without their phone or other distraction, to watch over the city for an hour at sunrise and sunset - looking out across the Humber to the east, the urban spread to the north and out across the suburbs and countryside to the west.

Each participant will have their own unique experience. One of the fundamentals in the practice of choreography is the nature of presence, to stand back from the world for an instant. At the same time, the participants will experience being part of a vast, human adventure on a larger scale than that of a population or a city.

Each day, the vigils will express their thoughts and experiences about their vigil and watching over the city of Hull. These words, along with photos of the performance will be posted on this website, telling the story of the performance in Hull.

Each vigil stands for us all. As a choreographer, I’m fascinated by making large scale artwork for cities that brings people together. The Vigil asks the question: is it the vigil watching the performance of the city or is the person in the city watching the performance of the vigil?

Joanne Leighton
Choreographer & Director of WLDN

The cultural city in the North that looks out for itself

Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Freedom Festival Arts Trust. explained:

We’re really proud to bring this powerful, internationally-renowned, participatory performance to the UK for the first time. It's an incredibly positive and meaningful story for the people of Hull - as we show the country and the world that we are the city in the north that looks out for each other in a different and considered way.”
 
“We’re acutely aware that excellent and unique art in public space responds to very real situations in society and helps us to make sense of it. The Hull Vigil is the perfect opportunity for us to respond by spending some time to take stock of who and where we are, and hope for a more positive future after the awful time we’ve been living through for so many. An intimate invitation to reflect on the beauty and the incredible story of our city and to reflect on what’s going on in the world and our place within it and where we take it next, when will you take your vigil?"    

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Artist's impression of The Hull Vigil. Image credit: Benjamin Tovo. 

Definitions

The vigil

Alone in the shelter, the vigil holds a presence for an hour at sunrise and sunset. In the morning, The Hull Vigil starts exactly at sunrise and lasts for an hour. In the evening, it starts exactly one hour before sunset, finishing exactly at sunset. The vigil is silent and whenever possible, standing. At the end of The Vigil, after being photographed by the Companion, the vigil returns to write up their experience in The Hull Vigil Journal.

The companion

The companion is the person who watches over the vigil. They meet the vigil before the performance and accompany them to the Annex (the waiting-room), where they serve refreshments until the appointed time. When it’s time, they take the vigil to the shelter. Once, the hour is up, they discreetly check the vigil and take a photo at that moment. On returning to the Annex, they leave the vigil to write up their experience in The Hull Vigil Journal.

The shelter

Designed by Benjamin Tovo, The Shelter is the scenography in which the Vigil takes place. A bespoke Shelter is designed for each Vigil site, in Hull the Shelter is located on the rooftop of the Hull College building overlooking Queen's Gardens. The Vigil must be able to see and to be seen. The Shelter is illuminated during the hour of each Vigil.

Vigil training workshop

Each vigil participates in a compulsory workshop prior to their vigil. The workshop explores the central themes of The Hull Vigil - performance and choreography - alongside the administrative aspects of taking part including logistics and photographic permission.

Vigil events

A number of celebratory events are scheduled to take place as part of The Hull Vigil, these are created by Joanne Leighton. An opening event will take place on 20 March 2021 to celebrate the beginning of The Hull Vigil while every three months, sharing evenings will be hosted for the vigils and companions. At the end of The Hull Vigil, a celebration will bring together all 730 vigils and companions, as participants reflect on and celebrate the year of The Hull Vigil.

The Hull Vigil Book

At the end of The Hull Vigil, to commemorate the performance, a book will be published and presented to each participant as a gesture of thanks for their participation.

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