Drowning confronts the margins of the real and the imagined – the dialogue between the inner world of the mind and what is perceived on the outside through the senses. Are we really on a cruise ship witnessing a woman throwing herself into the arms of the sea, or are we eavesdropping on the voices in her head as she tries to drown her sorrows in alcohol? This ambiguity is sharply contrasted by the certain and uncompromising withdrawal into her addict’s mind, with its guilt, shame, secrecy and sorrow. And perhaps not just an addict: the verse from Matthew 18:6 – He that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, should be drowned in the depths of the sea – adds an ironic perspective to the situation: a history of abuse. Is this woman the victim, the perpetrator or both? All these uncertainties are echoed by the chorus and give the piece its haunting atmosphere.
Drowning was written for Nederlands Vocaal Laboratorium and commissioned by Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst. The text was written by Rhett Griffiths in collaboration with Giel Vleggaar.