On Saturday 26th February 2011, I headed North by Bus to Lombard Street Belfast.
This time for a one day workshop with James King as part of the Bbeyond Performance Art Promotion groups 10 year celebrations. This workshop was to be the first in a series monthly events.
James King is from Derry, I first saw him repeating the word “bap, bap bap” in 2005 as part of the Bbeyond Performance tour, ‘In Place Of Passing’.
This use of words and sounds plus his ability to stay still balanced on a tiny edge of a plinth fascinated me.
The public reacted and a sort of interactive conversation occurred where a man was shouting about the needs of water in Africa, a subject totally unrelated to the saga of the feeding of the starving inside the city walls in the siege of Derry…but maybe there was a connection, anyway it was my first encounter with live art and its spontaneous combustion and weirdness yet near logicalness that I love.
There were 16 of us at this workshop some of whom I have met before.
We started with a basic warm up which helps loosen up and warm up ones whole body. A simple standing and bouncing up and down and letting each part shake gently and loosely. This action combined with breathing in and out and letting the out become a vocal sound that fit’s the body action, ort of relaxes and lets go tension, helps one focus and limber without any force or strain.
We worked on breathing and its many uses and ways of helping action.
We worked collectively on many ways of using sound, vowels and consonants, a sort of aural stew, playing around with sound in partners, sound interactions.
We sort of made responses to a place and made sound around that in a sort of non language using part words. Mixing word beginnings and endings.
I made a piece about the floorboards, a sort of odd use of words homaging the simple floor booooards woood wooods woord booore oorf llored. Ok daft! But kneeling down blowing into the space I sort of connected with other places in my life that had similar floorboards.
We then set about making some masks which we could choose to put eye holes or remain blind and then go out collectively to the street below. Which funnily enough had an Orange band go by shortly before.
My mask was more a head covering coming down over my shoulders a white cone but with the top bent down a bit so that it did not look too like the KKK.
I did put a tiny triangle to peep out. It still was a good sort of protector, made us all anonymous and me slightly braver.
We all set out in individual sites but were to work towards each other and then away again.
I faced a window where I saw the sign Boots for sale, I played with that, saying “elsa rof stoob“, so many times it twisted my mind and my tongue.
There were lots of youngsters about who were amused and interacted by pushing their mobile phones all over us to get us on their videophones. One lad kept asking me what are you doing it for? I replied in a sort of non language he repeated several times I kept answering in gobbledegook.
He went away only to reappear in front of me with a sheet of white paper in front of his own face and a tiny hole in it and he asked again but in gibberish so we had a proper gibberish interactive conversation. Greattt.
We then interacted with each other, one seemed to be getting very irate about freedom, I went shoosh shoosh and he said fffeck ooof…
We all finished in the room and discussed the actions, some seemed pleased, I questioned was it street art, street theatre or Performance art, I felt we were only entertaining? It was only an exercise. So still never quite sure where this sort of art lies?
I was pleased that I did it and pleased that I maintained focus and was not too exhausted after an hour but it’s pretty stimulating and can leave one buzzing but good.
On the way home in the bus was thinking about it all.
Some teenagers were around my seat getting drunk on the way to a concert in Dublin one broke the chair and lots of noisy laughing and language, such is the difference between real life and real life.
475 total views, 2 today