Sites of Conscience (2024), UBC Press

Sites of Conscience (2024)

About the chapter
On each of two balmy Saturday evenings in 2011, November 26 and December 3, Lily Hibberd and Wart led a party of twenty or so participants on a tour of twelve sites, or “stations,” along the foreshore of Luna Park and Lavender Bay, a harbourside suburb on the lower north shore of Sydney, Australia.
Titled Benevolent Asylum: Just for Fun, the project was initiated by Performance Space curator Bec Dean for the WALK public performance series that took place across Sydney in 2011. Over several months leading up to the event, Lily and Wart had met up and talked about institutional sites, art, memory, and their ideas for the WALK performance. From these conversations, they developed a promenade-style performance that combined Wart’s lived experience of institutionalisation and her aesthetic representation of this experience through performance and poetry with Lily’s ficto-historical art practice focused on the stories of asylum institutions established in the colonies of Australia.
The performance also featured a collage of stories, performances, and texts that was presented along the course of the walk. Titled  “Benevolent Asylum: Performance Art, Memory, and Decommissioned Psychiatric Institutions”, this book chapter takes the form of three-way conversation between Bec Dean, Lily Hibberd, and Wart, in which they reflect on their collaboration ten years after the event.
The chapter was published in 2024 in the book “Sites of Conscience and the Unfinished Project of Deinstitutionalization” edited by Linda Steele and Elisabeth Punzi.
About the book

Into the twenty-first century, millions of disabled people and people experiencing mental distress were segregated from the rest of society and confined to residential institutions. Deinstitutionalization – the closure of these sites and integration of former residents into the community – has become increasingly commonplace.

But this project is unfinished. Sites of Conscience explores use of the concept of sites of conscience and offers a way to forge new directions in social justice with and for those who have experienced harm. It involves a set of place-based memory activities such as walking tours, survivor-authored social histories, and performances and artistic works in or generated from sites of systemic suffering and injustice. These practices connect histories of place to contemporary social issues in order to move communities toward social change.

Scroll to Top