Archived entries for Performance
Six contorted, heaving bodies, six mounds of dough, arms and legs entwined with lengths of proved flour, yeast and water. Twisting, manipulating limbs and torsos. Cold, thick slaps of bread dough against concrete. Brushing of feet and fingers, the clatter of elbows, palms and kneecaps against the flour sifted floor. Dusty sweeping of limbs. Panting fury. Laboured breaths. Exhausted sighs. Groans of resistance; of perseverance. Our bodies; our battleground.
Emma Brennan’s authored durational performance “Heed, to the Mound”, presents a group of women negotiating space through the movement of mounds of bread dough within the space of The Complex for Dublin’s 2018 Fringe Festival. Taking place over the course of 3 hours, physical exertion takes it’s toll on the performers as they use their bodies to manoeuvre and manipulate mounds of bread dough, equivalent to the weight of their own bodies, across the performance space. Heed brings to the fore the question of space, how it is occupied, who occupies it and how we negotiate our bodies accordingly. Moving mounds through the tumultuous terrain of gender politics proves no easy feat, as the excruciating and exhaustive work quite fittingly erodes these women mentally and physically throughout the duration of the performance. With puffed red faces and sweat glistened necks, the performers roll, twist, knead, push and pull their dough with ferocious determination evoking an emotional response from spectators. As tightly clenched fists punch into dough and miniature mountains inch across concrete we see the slow progression of women’s rights throughout history, we see the everyday instances of aggression and violence toward female bodies, we hear the hurt and fury in the exasperated groans of women on the battleground of Ireland’s sociopolitical landscape.
The undervaluing of women’s labour throughout history and the unseen emotional labour expected of women within contemporary society are brought to the fore in Heed. Taking inspiration from her grandmother’s tradition of baking brown bread for the family, Brennan questions the devaluation of homemaking skills, deemed as “women’s work”, in Irish society. In rural Irish homesteads, the process of baking seemed to go almost unacknowledged and undervalued compared to the work of men’s labour on the farm or outside of the home. Heed, to the Mound points a finger at society’s valuation of the workload associated with the traditional role of the homemaker. Through the poignant actions of a group of women labouring intensively, exhausting every part of their bodies, over masses of dough, attention is drawn to the intensity of this work and respect that must be commanded of the act of making. Heed emphasises the importance of valuing these acts of unseen and undervalued labour in opposition to the emphasis placed on working for monetary gain within a capitalist system.
Brennan refers to her process of preparing the dough as a metaphor for the creation of life. “With flour and water, we can create a living, breathing body, something which can grow through proofing.” The genderless, sexless, mounds of dough present each performer with an opportunity to experience a sense of self without the weight of gender bias, stigma, discrimination, fear or insecurity. With pressed backs, stomping feet and curled fingers these women manipulate their very being across a public platform. Each women tending to their own projected doughy selves; some rip chunks out and squeeze together again, some stretch and roll out for lengths becoming thinner and thinner with each inch, some repeat the pulling and folding of flaps; the slapping of flesh and dough reverberating through the room. When kneading dough you cannot be heavy-handed – it changes the entire consistency and texture, you can taste a bread baked with love or anger. A handful of dough receiving the blunt force, or gentle caress, of emotion; do our bodies receive the same attention from the space we inhabit? Politics are a tactile experience, and the daily micro-aggressive touch of our oppressive sociopolitical sphere lingers in our physicality and psyche alike.
The socio-political landscape of contemporary Ireland has been aflood with dissent regarding the relationship between the state and women’s bodies. In 2018, Irish society saw the culmination of decades of protest in the passing of the movement to repeal the 8th Amendment from the Irish constitution. The year also marks the centenary of women’s partial suffrage in Ireland; 1918 was the first time Irish women (aged 30 or older who were university graduates or owned a certain amount of property) were permitted by law to vote and run in parliamentary elections. Both movements saw women collectively struggling against structures of power that sought to oppress and define them physically, mentally, socially and politically. From the violent beatings of protesting suffragettes at the hands of police forces to the vice grip of the 8th Amendment and the mobilisation of women in the campaign to repeal it, the female body indefinitely exists as a site of conflict in a constant struggle against its aggressive politicisation. Taking place just three months after the referendum on the 8th amendment was held, Heed, to the Mound allows for a form of post-repeal conflict resolution to play out on the concrete floor of The Complex. The struggle of dissent against patriarchal structures of power echoes through the space as violent slaps of an elongated limb of dough reverberate through the concrete floor. Forcefully, in spite of her evident fatigue, a woman thrusts it behind her shoulder to gain momentum before hurtling it down upon the flour scattered ground. Some of the dough breaks away to hit a nearby wall. She repeats her action; the dough catches her behind the neck with a smack to her upper back; there can be no disruption without trauma. She perseveres.
Exhausted, and seemingly close to defeat, one woman halts her movements. The mass she had been inching across the space has begun to stick to the undredged floor and each push is met with increased resistance. As she heaves her body upon the mound to catch her breath and rest for a moment, she is spotted by the human dredger. This woman stands watching over the others, smiling gently, a mountain of flour in hand. Upon seeing distress, she tends to the struggling womens needs by sifting flour with great care around the stubborn masses of dough. A moment later, the performer is moving again. In times of mass dissent against oppressive forces of power, it is collectivity and care for ourselves and one another that carry us through. We must remember to pay heed to the mound.
Art in the Contemporary World work with the RHA for Learning and Public Engagement, Futures Series 3, Episode 2 with Dublin Youth Dance Company
Working closely with the RHA, Katy Fitzpatrick and Róisín Bohan for the Public Engagement and Learning program for the current Futures exhibition, ACW students, Brendan Fox, Natalie Pullen and Éimear Regan developed You, Me and Everything In Between. A theatrical workshop loosely based around Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, where participants were encouraged to manifest a performative narrative connecting the exhibition content. The artists featuring in Futures Series 3, Episode 2 exhibition are Bassam Al-Sabah, Cecilia Danell, Laura Fitzgerald, Jennifer Mehigan, Joanne Reid and Marcel Vidal. The work on display by each artist in Futures is unconnected and seemingly disparate as the exhibition is a display of their own personal practice rather than a group show that relates to a specific theme or greater narrative. The challenge set forth in the workshop was to develop a constellation between the artists’ work on display, with an outcome of producing and creating a wholly separate piece of performance art. The artists in the Futures exhibition also contributed to the workshop by donating personal objects for a further insight into their world. Among the objects donated were a paint pot cast from layers upon layers of paint, a silver mask and a metal rod. Members of the Dublin Youth Dance Company directed by Mariam Ribon, were invited to participate in the 3-hour-long workshop which took place on Saturday 15 December. The first half of the workshop began with the 11 participants viewing and taking in the work, followed by a meditation and then contained a series of exercises influenced by Boal’s practice where there was a discussion and consequently where the generation of ideas for a narrative emerged. During the second half of the workshop the DYDC participants were divided into three groups and were instructed to develop their narrative of the exhibition through three “moments” that established a final performance. Materials were provided by the facilitators Fox, Pullen and Regan to aid the development and theatricality of the narrative, encouraging the participants to engage in producing a fully embodied piece of art. The dancers infused themselves into the workshop and the outcome was outstanding. Each group performed their finished piece within the space with the artworks as a backdrop. The dancers’ commitment to the workshop was phenomenal and the creative energy generated in the space was quite special.
Éimear Regan, MA Art in the Contemporary World
All photographs by Brendan Fox
Young Hearts – www.youngheartsrunfree.ie turns 10 in December, and to celebrate the milestone there’s a mini-festival from 7th – 9th December at venues around Dublin city.
As ever, all the proceeds go to the Simon Community -The project/collective was started in 2008 by Siobhán Kane, wanting to promote the creative community, as well as raise money for this homeless organisation.
There are so many great people contributing, from Emmet Kirwan to David O’Doherty, Katie Kim, Lisa O’Neill, Dreamgun – to grab tickets to any of the events click the link below:
Don’t miss out!
*a liminal-point at which a hybrid entity consisting of organic human and technological mechanisms is in the process of becoming a cyborg, though does not yet have a body. The ‘city’ in this case suggests a hypothetical destination in which the cyborg is integrated into contemporary metropolitan society.
ACW student Sara Muthi responds to Composition 2: Notes on Breathing + Space by Siobhan Kavanagh and Adam Gibney at Ground Floor Gallery, The Complex. The text is avalible to read on in:Action, here: https://inaction.ie/2018/08/20/half-way-to-cyborg-city/
Saturday 11 November, 2.00 – 5.00pm, Johnston Suite, IMMA
Showcasing new ROSC50 Artist Research Commissions by Amanda Coogan, Emma Haugh, Christodoulos Makris, Nathan O’Donnell and Suzanne Walsh.
Nathan O’Donnel, an editor of Paper Visual Art will be a major course contributor for ACW in early 2018 as part of the courses Art & Writing module. Suzanne Walsh; a participating member in this event is also an ACW alumnus.
IMMA and NIVAL commissioned a number of artists to create new projects in response to ROSC 50, a collaborative research project to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Rosc exhibition in 1967, Through a programmee of talks, events, research commissions and exhibitions ROSC 50 revisits the Irish art historical account of these landmark visual art exhibitions in Ireland, exploring their legacy and meaning in the present day. The period of research is from July to December 2017 and draws on the continuing ROSC 50 programme.
For more information please visit:
Hugh McCabe & Suzanne Walsh
Curated by Sharon Murphy
19 October – 4th November
Opening event including performance by Suzanne Walsh at 7pm on Thursday October 19th 2017
Gallery 2, Draíocht, Blanchardstown
LOST STATE is a collaborative mixed-media exhibition by Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh consisting of photography, voice, audio and digitally generated video.
“Thrones and dominions” the Finn said obscurely “Yeah, there’s things out there. Ghosts, voices. Why not? Oceans had mermaids, all that shit, and we had a sea of silicon … ”
William Gibson, Count Zero (1986)
How will our present technological moment be perceived from the perspective of the future? In our anthropocentric era where evidence of human-driven climate change mounts and rumours of the coming singularity abound, can we be confident that our steady rate of scientific progress won’t suffer a rupture? What fictions will be created to fill the resultant gaps? What myths will emerge from the residue of the information age?
Lost State sets out to explore these questions using as its starting point a series of photographs shot from the imagined point of view of future archaeologists exploring the technological detritus of our time. A fractured speculative narrative alludes to the circumstances and significance of this discovery and invokes memories of human-technological mourning and loss. A digitally generated film simulates this imaginary exploration in order to question how image production technologies shape our perceptions of the past and of the future.
The work aims to trouble the boundaries between various categories: the organic and the inorganic; the imagined future and the perceived past; the human and the technological; the analogue and the digital; the secular and the sacred.
Still and moving images by Hugh McCabe
Words and sound by Suzanne Walsh
3D Modelling by Vincent O’Reilly
Also opening in Gallery 1 on the same evening is Elaine Hoey’s award-winning VR artwork, The Weight Of Water. Both exhibitions will be opened by Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO, The Digital Hub. Launching on the night will also be the inaugural Draíocht Visual Culture Award for a Graduate of the Creative Digital Media Programme at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown.
Hugh McCabe is a Dublin-based lecturer, musician and artist. He is graduate of the MA ‘Art In the Contemporary World’ course at NCAD and teaches critical theory and 3D graphics at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown.
Suzanne Walsh is an artist, writer and musician whose cross-disciplinary work moves between the literary, music and art worlds. Suzanne is also a graduate of the MA ‘Art In The Contemporary World’ course. She is currently a resident artist at Fire Station Artists’ Studios.
Catalyst Arts is pleased to present the highly anticipated International Live Art Biennial FIX17, happening from Thursday the 5th to Monday the 9th of October.
FIX is an internationally renowned and distinctly Belfast biennial, established by Catalyst Arts in 1994. For twenty-three years Fix has consistently delivered an innovative programme of local and international live, sonic and performance artists to the city of Belfast and is one of Europe’s longest running live art festivals. The legacy of Fix has been to create opportunities locally for emerging and established practitioners, providing work for artists, photographers, videographers, writers, curators and arts administrators.
Thursday 5th October | 6-9pm
Beagles and Ramsay
Friday 6th October | 6-9pm
[part of Student and Recent Graduate Show Opening]
Saturday 7th October | 6-9pm
Sunday 8th October | 2-9pm
Cleveland Watkiss | 8pm Sonic Arts Research Centre
Monday 9th October
Same Difference:Equinox to Equinox | screening by Bbeyond