Artwork: Grandma, Temi and the Crimean Fever (2013)
Genre: site-specific solo performance
Role: performer, writer
Description: The site-specific solo performance took form of a semi-fictional guided tour around the Valletta’s Palazzo Castellania, headquarters to the Ministry of Health. The journey culminated in a tiny, unattended room that holds the knowledge of many decades of medical research in Malta. It was in this laboratory in 1905 that physician and archaeologist Sir Themistocles Zammit discovered the Mediterranean strain of Brucellosis, also known as Crimean fever, or Maltese fever.
The story “reveals” the connection between Melkonyan’s great grandmother and Sir Zammit’s research, intertwining personal narrative with national history of science. The fact that Melkonyan had graduated as a microbiologist and is still active in the science-related field allowed her to explore the grey area between reality and fiction. The whole guided tour was presented as the factual story to the audience, with just occasional use of such words as “theatre” and “performance” in the program, leaving the visitors to decide themselves what is trustworthy in this private view on History.
The specificity of the architectural styles of Palazzo Castellania became a metaphor for the narrative construction representing the mixture of facts and fantasies, the play with the identity and narrative.
Credits: Written and Performed by Ira Melkonyan; Dramaturgy by Katarina Pejovic; Directed by Jimmy Grima; Photographed by Elisa von Brockdorff, Alexander Sobolla; poster artwork by Jimmy Grima; Produced by the rubberbodies collective; Commissioned by Science in the City Festival; Funded by Malta Arts Fund; Hosted by the Malta Ministry of Health.
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