Reflection on Regret by Ida Sophia

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By Alicia Sullivan

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Regret was performed at The Floating Goose between the 2nd to the 29th of June.  

Art can be healing, cathartic, transformational and liberating to the viewer and to the artist. It can help establish an invisible bond that will forever link the viewer to the artist together without them ever sharing the same space again.  I had this very experience while attending Ida Sophia’s show, Regret, a 28-day durational live performance where Ida would sit for six hours a day in a contemplative state. I went the first time to the live performance as I was curious about the idea of art being used as a redemptive ritual. I left needing to see the finissage and the final performance action, with a desire to see Ida be set free from her regret and emerge victorious.

Ida Sophia’s guilt and regret (hence the name of the show) of not visiting her dad in his final month of life was the catalyst for this durational live performance. Her need to atone for not being by her dad’s side while he was dying because she was unable to watch him decay before her eyes galvanised Ida to confront her regret through her art/performance. Using her durational performance as a public act of mourning and redemption, Regret forced Ida to slowly observe decay and death by sitting in front of a monumental installation of flowers for 28 days. The flowers symbolised her father’s body and the effects the disease had on his body in his final month alive.

Arriving at Floating Goose Studios, I was unsure about what I was going to encounter or how long I would stay observing the space and Ida. Walking into the art space, there was an element of reverence that the space and Ida’s energy created, almost like I was in a place of worship. It was a surreal feeling, like I was entering another plain of existence – a realm between the living and the dying.

Regret used visual and sensory elements to show contrasts between life and death: Ida sitting in front of the installation of flowers, dressed in all red besides a blue cloak draped around her shoulders – the red clothing symbolising life and blood. The installation of flowers on the other hand had lost their colour, the flowers and stems were drooping or fallen on the floor and the sickly smell of decay was in the air. A photo of the flowers had been taken every day and placed on the wall, highlighting the changes of the flowers during this performance. The space was quiet apart from the amplified sound of Ida’s heartbeat. The sound of Ida’s heartbeat was comforting with its rhythmic beat but also a reminder I was in a space that was simultaneously alive and dying. The heartbeat projecting through Floating Goose Studios was Ida’s way of acknowledging the visitor’s presence. 

A key component of Regret was the participation of the visitors of the performance to write down their own regret on a plaster writing tablet, to unburden themselves and place their regret onto Ida’s cloak, allowing her to figuratively and literally carry their regret. By the end of the performance the cloak weighed regrets 15kg. Besides writing my own regret, I read many of the regrets placed on the cloak. A few regrets tugged at my heartstrings and made me reflect on the regrets I still carry within myself.  Regrets about time, lost love, illness, staying in violent environments, abortions and not loving themselves were prevalent.

I spent more than an hour on my first visit, immersed in the space and my thoughts. I used the environment to reflect on the weight that I carry from my regret and the actions I must undertake to free myself from my regret.

Attending the finissage and the final performance action will live with me for the rest of my life. It was a beautiful and emotional journey, connecting me to not only Ida but to the people who attended Floating Goose Studios that night, whether that be inside or outside due to Covid restrictions. We all watched collectively, wondering how Ida would unburden herself of the weight of her regret and the hundreds of regrets she wore on her cloak. We were all transfixed when Ida stood up from her chair, we all felt her gaze touch our soul, we all cried as she struggled to remove the cloak of regrets and we all cheered when Ida triumphantly took the cloak off and walked away from the regrets. The people in attendance became one that night, it was the most intimate experience I have had with a performance. It was magical watching Ida completing her act of redemption and being free from the regret that she has lived with since the passing of her father. The love Ida had for her father and her other loved ones radiated from her, it was warming to see. 

I left the performance crying due to the emotional journey I had been on. Regret was the performance/ ritual I needed to witness. It encouraged me to complete my own act of redemption. One day, I too, will triumphantly be free from the burden of regret.

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