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BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART - 2013

Brian Connolly, 2014-04-05

The first Belfast International Festival of Performance Art occurred in March 2013. It has grown out of a series of small Performance Events within the University of Ulster Belfast as part of its Festival of Art over the last few years. The majority of the artworks occurred within the Glass Box Exhibition Space in the Foyer of the College of Art/Belfast Campus.

Alastair MacLennan (NI) & Mariel Carranza (USA):

The 2013 event was launched on the 1st of March by a collaborative performance between Alastair MacLennan & Mariel Carranza. This work was devised and developed between the artists before the Festival and they worked together for four days prior to their performance. They made a durational performance, which started at 10.00am and ended about six and a-half hours later.

Both artists were barefoot and seated for much of the time. They held a large glass sheet between them, on which a series of objects were displayed, used, moved and integrated, and these included a two crystal singing bowls, dried potted plants, walking sticks, ice in a bowl from a set of weighing scales, seaweed, feathers, and other sea-worn and natural objects. Other materials such as earth were placed in the corners of the space.

The singing bowls were periodically played and their high-pitched notes rang out through and beyond the glass room. Both artists on occasion moved about the space, Alastair with his head covered in ladies tights with one of it’s legs containing a child’s shoe and the other an item I could not discern, drew charcoal lines on safety markings across the windows and at the same level across white cloth wall hangings, his marks encircling the space. He often balanced objects on his head. At times Mariel marked the windows and hanging cloth with earth smeared by hand. They both moved deliberately and slowly, sometimes alone and at other times together.

The range of objects were ordered, exchanged and repositioned on the glass sheet. The pervading feeling was one of focused calm. At the end of their action they both stood up and held the glass sheet for a short time before letting it drop onto the stone floor, where it smashed into pieces.

Tuesday 19th of March

Amy Brooks (NI):

Amy created a minimal and very focused performance with only a few pieces of coal and her body. She wore a simple light dress or ‘slip’ perhaps, and slowly moved about the space intimately relating to the pieces of coal and to the architecture of the space... At times moving the pieces of coal along the floor with her mouth or standing and moving while balancing the pieces on her head. She held a piece of coal in her mouth, balanced it against the window with her head, she propped herself up on all fours with pieces of coal below her knees and hands, rather like some surreal toddlers toy.

To work with such basic and minimal material puts all the attention on the artist’s movements, their bodily poise, and their points of pause. There is little room for visible errors and in this case the viewer witnessed a series of simple and aesthetic gestures. Her focus and creative decisions were paramount, unwavering.

Over time parts of her body, her dress and face became blackened by the coal dust. She eventually pulled herself out of the space, lying face down on the floor, like a swimmer leaving a wake of coal dust behind her.
This artwork lasted for about 40 minutes.

Dominic Thorpe (Irl):

Dominic had prepared the space with fragments of broken glass in one corner and a cone of cement powder piled against the glass wall, in the opposite corner. He selected slivers of glass from the pile of fragments and very carefully lifted little piles of the cement powder on each chosen sliver. Throughout the performance he held his mouth open as if mouthing a silent word, as if unable to close it, but regularly and periodically he would snap it shut, with a click of teeth, rather like a puppet or toy crocodile. This facial action persisted throughout the performance.

He gently lifted and transported each small pile, balanced on the sliver of glass, like a tiny floating grey island. These were then placed on the window ledges and precariously balanced, the glass jutting out into the space and exposed. He also held few of these slivers high in the air for a time, before placing them. A few were also placed on the floor both inside and outside the space. Near the end of the performance he suddenly produced what looked like a black stone from his mouth and balanced it on the back of his hand. This piece of wet coal explained the noises and facial expressions throughout the performance.

This gentle ritual, minimal in nature, spoke of some unfinished business, a raw state of affairs left in balance and ever so precarious, to some potential clumsy intervention from outside, or perhaps even within.
This work lasted for about 45 minutes.

Wednesday 20th. March:

Pavana Reid (NI/Nor)

Pavana had placed an old wooden chair, stool, kettle and a roll of dark patterned cloth in the space. The window blinds were lowered to her head height. She, wearing a long a black gown from head to toe, started her performance by sitting on the stool in one corner, a white bag slung over her shoulder. She moved to the opposite corner and placed the stool into the wooden armchair and sat down. She slowly extended her limbs and lifted herself up onto the chair, eventually standing on the arms of the chair for a short while.

Eventually she moved to the roll of material on the floor and got inside it, where she sat huddled as if inside a cloak. When she revelled herself she had somehow produced a large hatchet, with a red handle. She slowly moved around the floor all the while holding the hatchet. There was a feeling of potential violence or danger, but all her movements served to articulate the presence of the hatchet, without any suggestion of it being wielded as a weapon. The hatchet was held in different positions, upright, level, between foot and hand etc.

After some time she put the hatchet down and produced a set of Thai silver finger extensions from under the cloth. These she taped to her fingers one by one and eventually lifted the hatchet and went and sat on the chair once again, nursing the hatchet.

After a while she went and kneeled on the floor in another corner facing outwards. (There may have been some sound at this point, but I now forget.) She then produced a small knife and began cutting away at the bottom of her large gown, slowly ripping pieces off to reveal trousers below. She then left the space. This work lasted about 45 minutes.

Kurt Johannessen (Nor):

Kurt had placed a large granite boulder on a board in the centre of the space. Several blocks of A4 paper had been placed in the space. The larger of these blocks had been placed in one corner and another, smaller block, across the space nearer to the windows. Nearby he had placed a glass full of seeds, some spools of thread, small glass vials, wooden sticks used for stirring coffee and a roll of sellotape.

To start he slowly taped little pieces of paper onto the windows to form little shelves, in each of which he delicately placed a dead fly, which he produced from the small glass vials. These flies were randomly located around the three glass walls.

Once this delicate task was complete he moved to the rounded boulder, feeling it, becoming familiar with its size and texture. He then went and stood on the large block of A4 paper in the corner, for a while, looking around the space. He then returned to the large rock and bending over it he started to unspool threads from his pocket and draped these over his head to form a tangle between himself and the rock. He then cleared away the tangle and left the threads on the rock.

He returned to the glass wall and placed a few more flies on little shelves high up in the space. Then lying on the floor, for some time, he balanced a long needle between his index finger and the smaller block of paper. When lifting his finger the needle, so impressed by the downward pressure remained dangling below. He then placed the glass full of seeds on the paper and pressed his lips down into the seeds, leaving a ring of seeds on his face. He then stood on the boulder, balancing on it’s rounded surface, rocking to and fro, and then when balanced he looked out beyond the space and over the heads of the audience.

Eventually he lay down behind the large rock, held it tight to his body and struggled for some time to pull it up off the ground and over onto his body. He then lay under the rock for a short while, breathing and pinned to the floor. He then let it roll off and left the space. This work lasted at 45 minutes.

Thursday 21st March:

Mimosa Pale (Fin/Berlin)
Mimosa arrived in the space and flew a small yellow chick around the space, cheeping and chirping as she flew. Eventually she landed the little bird on a small table with three coloured objects, which mirrored three metal Buoys’ in Buoy Park directly outside the Glass Box Gallery. She then lifted the red and white object and put it on her head and briefly wore it, like a small hat. She quickly established a humorous narrative, which played with differing scales, the micro in the Glass Box Gallery on the inside and the Macro outside in Buoy Park.

She then unwrapped a black plastic bin bag and made it into a kind of hand puppet monster and once more went around the space. While moving her bin-bag arm like a plastic snake or dragon, she made threatening noises as she went. She eventually targeted the small models of the three Buoys’, and the small yellow bird, covering it up as if eating it.

She then took off the bag monster and stood for a short while considering her options. She then put on several yellow coat layers, mirroring the small bird on the table. She then lifted up a package which had been sitting in the space and beckoned on the audience to follow her out of the gallery and then out of the building and into Buoy Park.

In the park she went over to the three Buoys and walked around them eventually ending up at a built plinth like structure to their left. She climbed up onto this plinth structure, which is in front of the west façade of St. Anne’s Cathedral. After making a series of movements rather like dance gestures, she unfurled her package, which turned out to be a large black slug like tube, formed from a tent. This she wheeled around her head for some time, once more mirroring the bin-bag monster she had employed earlier. As the wind was strong on the day, she had struggled with this black slug for about five minutes.

She eventually covered herself up with the black bag of wind as if being swallowed up. Eventually she re-emerged from the windbag monster and fought it back slowly crumpling it up on top of the plinth. Once it had been vanquished and dramatically repacked she stood victorious, echoing statues of St George from around the World.
The performance ended with a bow before she climbed down off the plinth.
This work lasted about 40 minutes.

Karine Talec (Current BA Fine Art Student, Belfast School of Art)

Karine had placed a table and chair at the centre of the Gallery to face towards the College Foyer. Several objects were placed on the table, a knife, what looked like a birds’ nest, several balloons and a black wig or hat made from black feathers.

She entered the space and slowly walked around touching the windows and wall with one hand outstretched. She eventually sat on the chair and placed the feather wig on her head covering her eyes.

She stood up once more and placed the balloons in her coat pocket. She moved around the gallery again touching the glass and walls carefully feeling her way and feeling the corners, gaps, and architectural structure of the space.

She at one point stood for some time on the window ledge as if looking out into the Buoy Park like a trapped bird in a cage. There was no sense of frustration or danger, but rather a kind of quiet melancholic calm as she carried on her examination of the conditions of the space.

Talec then moved the chair and stood up onto it, stretching her arms up aloft, while balancing blindfolded. She then climbed down and moved the chair to the other side of the space and once more stood up onto it, but this time she blew up the balloons and let them go. Once again she climbed down off the chair and approached the table. This time she felt the objects on the table, eventually lifting the knife and moved back and onto the chair.

Then slowly and deliberately she cut each of the shining buttons off her long coat, One by one each button in turn was cut and placed in her mouth before being spat out and clattering around the floor. After all the buttons had been cut off, she stood down off the chair and took the coat off placing it against the window which was now in front of her.

Talec then returned to the table and searched for the nest. Once found she took it into the corner of the room and tried to hold it high is if trying to place it somehow on an imagined, but non existant shelf. Next she walked slowly on tiptoe holding the nest aloft in one hand and then finding an invisible thread attached, she dangled the nest on the the end of this line as she moved.

Eventually she returned to the chair but this time placed it upon the table. She climbed up onto the table and then onto the chair. She balanced precariously on the spongy seat and all the while remaining blinded by the feathers over her eyes. Her feet adjusted as her body moved in and out of balance. In time, when she had attuned to her blind vertical position she slowly lifted the nest on the thread and cupping it into her hands she lifted it up high above her head straining to reach the roof. She maintained her delicate balance teatering and fumbeling her way to try and find the light fittings on the roof. Her precarious position as well as her covered eyes created a real tension and dread as a loss of concentration or false move would spell disaster. However with real concentration she succeeded in finding the light fittings and then carefully placed the nest on top of one of them. She slowly clambered down off the chair and then the table. She removed the feather blindfold and left the space. This work lasted about 30 minutes.

Friday 22nd. March:

Sinead Bhreathnach Cashell (NI)

Cashell had placed a Belfast City Council Litter Bin in the Gallery. This served to link the inside with the street outside in a humorous but surreal way. On encountering the space the audience were met by what looked like an ordinary litterbin seemingly filled to near overflowing.

Suddenly items were ejected from inside the bin, at first golf balls were dropped out one by one bouncing around the space. Later a large volume of golf balls was poured out all at once. These were then followed by one plastic banana, one magpie, (which is bad luck in Northern Ireland when seen on its own!), a litter grab, a plastic pig, a rubber chicken and a range of other plastic kitsch items.

Bit by bit a series of surreal and humorous objects were produced by the bin and expelled. At one point a tape measure was unspooled, a toy lamp light bulb was set on top of the bin, followed by a Karaoke Sound Machine with its own advertising poster. More and more items were ejected from the bin including clothing, a plastic orange, a toy mooing cow, a plastic stick fishing rod, tinsel, toy putter and more golf balls followed by their bag. And so it went for about a half an hour. Cashel produced one item after another and dropped them to the floor littering the space.

Then the bin door was opened and the perpetrator of this litter event emerged, her hair tied up with items of rubbish. She carefully untied these items of rubbish from her hair and placed them back in the bin. Once this task was finished she went around the space lifting all the discarded items with the litter grab and put them back in the bin. She then left the space.
This work lasted about 45 minutes
.

James Fennel (Current BA Fine Art Student, Belfast School of Art)

Fennel started his performance by standing with his left foot on a cement breezeblock leaning into the wooden doors on one side of the Gallery Space. He then lay down on the floor and started to hit the block with his fist, slowly. Fennel then began to push the block along the floor with his head and face, towards the window. On reaching the window he poured a glass of coloured sweets into his mouth, one colour only. He sat and waited for the hard shell on the sweets to melt to produce a mix of saliva and food colouring dye.

Once he had enough liquid in his mouth he stood close to the window and let the colour run down the glass from out of his mouth. He repeated this series of actions several times producing different coloured pours on all the external windows, yellow, red, green, etc. and in between shoving the block along the floor with his head or face in a rather painful looking process.

Having repeated this process he eventually reached a zone where he had set eggs, flour and water on the floor. He mixed some dough with his hands and placed his head in the dough for a brief time and then, on removing it, he lifted up an amount of the dough and transported it to the table in the centre of the room. He sat on a chair and placed the dough over his eyes and started to eat pieces of coloured paper.

He moved round the table from side to side. At each place at the table he carried out a ritualised action, eating paper, pouring inks on his face and dough, blowing up balloons and hammering at the table. Once these tasks were completed he took the dough off his face, sat for a moment and then left the space. This work focused on the primary colours and evoked a sense of ritualised struggle and transgression.This work lasted about 50 minutes.

Saturday 23rd. March:

James King (NI)

James King entered the space wearing a suit and pair of woman’s platform shoes. He proceeded to move around the space, in a jerking movement too and fro, making noises all the while. He produced unrecognisable burbles wheezes, screeches, all merged with outbursts, coughs, laughs and short repetitive monologues. All these bodily sounds were produced in a flowing sequence full of expression and character. At some point he shoved two paper tissues up his nostrils and continued on around the room. The utter surreal nature of his actions, sounds and gestures were both compelling and very funny.

He climbed onto the table and moved around continuing to utter his range of sounds. Flowing from one thing to another. He suddenly jumped off the table in a startling manner for one of such years! He then prodceeded to throw sheets of paper in the air with loud exclaimations.

King then moved to the table and started to use the typewriter as an instrument forming letter sounds with repeating clacking of the keys and expending a lot of energy in the production of both the sounds and actions. When one material form ebbed another started, in an almost seamless manner he addressed his audience with wit and verve gesturing to them as if a great orator in his finest and happiest hour.

As this sequence ended he once more stood up, lifted a country mans cap from the window ledge and sat down to narrate from an unspecified book. After a short time he left the space while still reading aloud form the book. Pure Fluxus Jazz!
This work lasted about 40 minutes.

Bbeyond Monthly

Bbeyond were invited to create one of their ongoing Monthly Meetings in the Glass Box. What followed was a series of interactive performances, gestures, relations, collaborations, meetings, moments, observations, findings, musings, mistakes, breaks, collapses, fuses, loses, rips, tares, stairs and as I was performing myself I am unable to write about it objectively!

The Group Performance lasted about 2 hours and involved a range of local and international artists.

Photos: Brian Connolly and Jordan Hutchings

Special Thanks to:
All the contributing artists,Cultural Development, University of Ulster, Belfast,Jordan Hutchings,The Department of Culture Arts & Leisure


The Belfast International Festival of Performance Art 2013 was organised by Brian Connolly with assitance from Cultural Development at the University of Ulster.

This Account was written by Brian Connolly on the 6.3.2014

Belfast International Festival of Performance Art 2014
Scheduled for March 11th. – 15th. 2014.
Further Info at:
http://www.ulsterfestival.com/bifpa.html

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