21: Memories of Growing Up

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 1 minute
Published 04 Mar 2018

Human emotion in art is difficult to portray with authenticity. Even rarer still is the ability to elicit that mirrored experience of genuine emotion from viewers. Swiss artist Mats Staub manages this feat brilliantly in 21: Memories of Growing Up.

This audio-visual installation serves as an experiment in memory as well as empathy. Asking people from across the globe of their experiences at the age of 21, Staub plays back their answers to them three months later, recording the reactions and quiet moments of reflection upon hearing their own stories.

With such visceral emotions drawn from the artist’s subjects – listening in awe or embarrassment at their own honesty – viewers cannot help but feel these emotions in turn themselves. Individuals' expressions vary from guilt, regret and sorrow, to elation, pride and laughter – and not necessarily in the places one would expect.

With such a diverse age group recounting their experiences from 1939 to 2015, it is likely that more than one story will resonate in an exercise that invites people to confront their own ever-changing narratives.