In The Dead Ones, Margie Fischer presents a live reading of her own diary entries from a time of profound loss. Through her reflections, memories and experiences of the mourning process, we are offered an insight into some of the true fundamentals of life. Accompanied by photographs of family members and their home, Fischer’s story is inviting, engaging and universal. Beginning with her parents’ plight in Nazi Austria, through their migration to Shanghai, and eventual settlement in Australia, details of their struggles, as well as happier times, allow us to relate intimately and emotionally.
Fischer’s performance is a generous one. The catharsis resulting from her work is as much for her audience as it is for herself. Death touches everyone but it does not live in everyday discourse. Through Fischer’s meditations about losing all of her immediate family, we see what is of real value in life, and the meanings that are held in images, possessions, relations and places. We think about the things discarded when a person dies, and what is preserved by those left behind. Every mundane thing is turned sacred.
Witnessing a person mourn from close proximity and in detail, we cannot help but contemplate our own relationships. For the good ones we have, we think about gratitude and appreciation. For the others, we are inspired to re-examine circumstances and consider improvements. People often debate on art’s purpose. If art does indeed have a purpose, Margie Fischer’s contribution here is a noble one.