It’s a mild damp November day, I get a lift to the Dart station with £50 pocket money from my “keeper “(husband). For the first time in my life the state pays my fare to Belfast. I sit down to stare out the window at a passing urban sprawl only to be amused at an all female party in pink and white silly outfits celebrating one 40 year olds birthday. They get increasingly party like as we near Belfast.
I am also reading Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” He returns to do journeys he made when younger, at a later age and brings me back to similar trips in my own life.
I am journeying to do Performance Art with the group that first introduced me to this art form six years ago, B Beyond.
This group organises a monthly performance meet up. It is usually informal and arranged in various outdoor spaces, an opportunity for similar minded artists to perform with and to each other and also to any member of the public who is present and may get the valuable experience or not as is sometimes the result.
It might be a Park or a beach but in this case tied in with the Catalyst Arts Centre so a part of the live Art Biennale, check www.catalystarts.org.uk
The taxi man, although given the correct address, brought me to the wrong gallery, The Crescent Art Gallery, but not too far out.
I was a bit late and the room was already in action with maybe six or seven others.
I knew the space and what it was like so had a sort of pre planned mental idea of what I aimed to do.
It is an all white space with walls with old crevices and brick with white pillars supports.
I had the volumes of white material that I had used several times before.
This time I used it less as a covering and more on a wrapping of the room, moving from place to place. To begin I simply warmed up rotating my neck around, it has become very stiff with Osteoarthritis. You do not want to know. But a problem.
The material then winds around the pillar and me and sort of dictates where and how it wants me to move.
Nothing maybe beautiful, more awkward and slow but has its own inner feeling of flow and softness.
No pre plan, but I did circumnavigate that room over a period of two hours.
I was aware of the other artists working around me but was careful to not over ride, into, or on top of their space.
It is a sort of instinct I am beginning to understand better each time I do this sort of interactive work in a same space.
Each work is separate but yet becomes a part of the whole room experience.
Rainer Paget was sitting in one corner attaching cut outs from a magazine to himself.
James King was vocally filling the room with continuous repetitive verbal like part sentences.
I was covered so not able to see as I moved at times, his voice gave me a location to space I knew he was near the walls so as I moved nearer could almost see his verbal graffiti.
This actually helped me focus, It helped me as a mantra to pace and control my movements, and gave me a rhythm, maybe like African work chants that get a group to keep working and not notice the individuals fatigue.
Brian Patterson seemed to be controlling a metal cistern ball with soccer like feet.
Colm was stepping a very large A frame ladder across the room, somehow it did not make me nervous. I knew he had control but there was an edgy realisation that if I made an error and crashed into that ladder…
I was in my own zone and moved through the space in tune with my body and time itself,
There were others in the room watching, some with cameras one drawing into a sketch book.
My neck was stiff and from time to time so I allowed myself a still phase where I simply was there, one lady stood on me after she said “I did not know you were in there” “sorry, I thought it was a sculpture!”
From time to time the room invited me to test some bodily contortions so I found my head on the floor and my socked feet creeping up across the wall seeking elevation but the body would not allow the flexibility needed to maintain this inverted action and would slide slowly back to the ground as the material refolded and a new phase began, folding, wrapping into and out of, training, trailing, circling, twisting, covering, moving.
At times I had to fight against knots of awkwardness, locked in the tissues enveloping me, reaching a true state of frustration so would curl up and just be, but my mind was planning the next mode of movement and I would set off again, some routes worked, some not.
I had negotiated the whole room passing around pillars, past artists, covering a bench and two spectators, filling an alcove, spreading along a wall face.
I kept myself covered most of the time but at times allowed body parts to immerge and make a gesture, my fist alone in the air, to flex and contract.
Two hours later I smelt soup and finished my actions.
On Discussion after I was told it was good to have a “silent piece” in the room as all the others were making some sort of noise. Not sure about that.
Inside my head my work is a lot about myself but most may never realise or want to know, so here are some facts; I was a PE teacher and could do a multiple amount of body skills dance, gymnastic and otherwise pretty flexible.
Now that I have Osteoarthritis those skills are not there and no amount of practice will bring them back so this half creature is still moving and glad to be able, so it’s another art form to show this inability to be fluid.
The photos taken by Jordon Hutchings showed factors that were quite interesting with the other artists in the space making it look strangely like ectoplasm, ghost slime remains?
There’s even a shot of me where I’m spread sitting all a heap on the floor looks like a tired old woman, not many old woman allow that “dead beat” look out in the public realm.
So I am proud of my own efforts, thankful for those friends in Belfast that allow me join them, welcome me, feed me, and guide me on my way.
I think my new profession is to be a Performance Art TRAMP. Just turn up at convent doors and get fed and then move on to the next place that will feed me and my art form.
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