Features Diana's Month Ahead Published 2 July 2012

Performance Map: July

Our Performance Editor looks at the month ahead.

Diana Damian Martin

The Live Art UK’s Associates Gathering, Thinking About Live Art in Unfamiliar Places which took place on the 22nd June with the working title Waking Up In Somebody Else’s Bed explored the possibilities of live art to reside and occupy public spaces, investigating new possibilities for the presentation of live art and performance in the UK and beyond. It couldn’t be more timely; recently In Between Time have staged a micro-festival of performance in Woodchester Park, DASH organised a weekend of disability live art in Much Wenlock and the Pacitti Company completed On Languard Point, a large-scale outdoor participatory project exploring notions of home.

Performance finds its hosts in annual festivals; while it exists nomadically in black and white boxes throughout the country, it also has a strong visibility in the public sphere: the Occupy movement seems the most potent example. Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells, in his short essay Strange Routes, points towards the potent dialogue between real and imagined spaces: “from small acts in quite specific local contexts, to ambitious national and international projects, to events in the digital sphere, what continues to excite me about Live Art is its capacity to open up space, to open dialogue and to create a ground for change.” What a perfect lens through which to view this month’s Performance Map.

After Martin O’Brien’s excellent durational three-part project Regimes of Hardship, which explored, through practice as well as research, endurance and ideologies of health and illness as normative models of the social construction of the body, Hackney Wick’s Performance Space is gearing up towards Trauma and Vanity, a project taking place across three countries – Netherlands, France and UK – which is to be curated and performed by Jordan Wayne Long and Dani Ploeger. The project examines questions surrounding the body in relation to vanity, trauma and the construction of fantasies. The artists will be leading a salon investigating their work on the 4th July, followed by a series of performances on the 5th July.

V22 gallery in Bermondsey has recently opened a new space dedicated to performance and live art. The Performance Studio’s resident artists include Matthew Stone, Gary Stevens and Stuart Croft. There’s a great line-up of performances this month including A Mudhead Dance, a cinematic installation by Adam James from the 5th to the 7th of July, an exploration of sound and space from Gruenrekorder + Softday on the 15th and Bill Aitchison’s Vinyl on the 26th.

American performance artist Penny Arcade brings her acclaimed show on politics and sexuality, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! to the Arcola Tent until the 22nd of July. BDFW comes with its own significant performance history; it was created in the 1990s as a response to a new US amendment that sought to cut public funding for art deemed obscene or indecent, and juxtaposes improv, comedy, cabaret, erotic dancing and participation with monologues and short pieces on AIDS, censorship, sexuality and prostitution. It’s interesting to find such a landmark performance art piece adapted and responding to a problematic political and cultural climate; and if anyone knows how to stage a protest, it’s Penny Arcade.

That being said, Arcade isn’t the only performance artist stirring a revolution – director Nathan Evans is opening his show I Love You But We Only Have Fourteen Minutes to Save the Earth at Soho Theatre, on until 7th July, featuring a dazzling line-up of performance artists: David Hoyle, Timberlina and Fancy Chance, with cinematic interludes from Bette Bourne and Kate Pelling. You can read our interview with Nathan here.

Performance art goes public with the Hayward’s exhibition Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957-2002, running until the 5th August. Featuring work by giants such as Chris Burden, Yves Klein, Tehching Hsieh (also running an event as part of Hayward’s Open Wide School) as well as Andy Warhol, Song Dong and Carsten Holler, Invisible carries its weight not only in its provision of a unique chance to engage with a key chronology of performance art, but also in the sum of its parts, pointing towards a changing and playful mentality towards artistic language and frameworks centred on a particular social and political participation. At the same time, Marina Abramovic’s film The Artist is Present charting the process in the lead up the her major MOMA exhibition in New York with the same title, is on national release.

Also in the spotlight is Yoko Ono – her Instruction Paintings feature in Hayward’s Invisible, and her retrospective, To The Light, is currently on at the Serpentine until the 9th September, seeking to deconstruct the impact of the diversity of the artist’s work on the landscape of contemporary art. On the 7th, Cally Spooner is leading a seminar exploring Ono’s approach to text and action in the digital realm.

Bruce Namuman’s Days is on at the ICA until 16th September. Initially produced for the 2009 Venice Biennale, the sound sculpture explores temporality through a polyphony of voices that reflect on the passing of each day. Days is part of MOMA’s collection and was acquired in 2010. In conjunction with the installation, the ICA are also hosting a digital project titled Soundworks, a virtual exhibition space of one hundred sound pieces responsive to Days from artists worldwide.

As part of its London Open exhibition, Whitechapel Gallery is hosting a series of interventions and performances; Sarah Dobai will be investigating translations of film and photography into the live context of the white cube on the 12th, and Ruth Proctor will explore superstition and materiality in relation to gesture and form on the 19th.

This month sees the opening of Tate Modern’s Tate Tanks, dedicated to exhibiting performance and live art as well as installation and film. The Tanks will host Art in Action, a fifteen week festival of performances, installations and symposia starting on the 18th, part of London’s Cultural Olympiad. Combining special commissions, re-enactments and exhibited documentation, Art in Action is both a contemporary and historical endeavour that makes visible a particular history of participation and social engagement in the contemporary art landscape- albeit as a curated cross-section. Sung Hwan Kim’s installation will be a formal exercise in storytelling- bringing together images, sounds and sculptures from Seoul, Amsterdam and New York. Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will be reconstructing her 1982 piece Fase: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, in which she deconstructs the relationship between movement and sound, and there will also be displays by sound artist Liz Rhodes and Suzanne Lacy’s The Crystal Quilt. Tino Sehgal will be occupying the Turbine Hall from the 24th July as part of the Unilever Series.

The London International Theatre Festival continues in London with Gob Squad’s Before Your Very Eyes, Rimini Protokoll’s experiment in live statistics 100% London as well as Australian company Back to Back’s intriguing production Ganesh vs Third Reich and Gianina Carbunariu’s 20/20, a documentary about ethnic tensions in Northern Romania. BE Festival kicks off in Birmingham at AE Harris and mac between the 2nd and 8th July, featuring work by Dutch choreographer Carles Casallachs cie, exploring the iconography of spectacle, Italy’s Teatro Sotterraneo exploring laughter in a participatory piece and a developed version of Sleepwalk Collective’s highly acclaimed production As The Flames Rose We Danced to the Sirens, The Sirens.

The Latitude Festival kicks off on the 12th July, featuring work from the Pacitti Company, Candoco’s Set and Reset, Reset as well as work from Stan’s Cafe, Look Left Look Right and Theatre Ad Infinitum.  Live Notation lands at Bristol’s Arnolfini on the 27thin a full day exploration of the relationship between live art and coding, and Sports Play, Nobel Prize winning Elfriede Jelinek’s postdramatic exploration of the commodification of the human body in sport begins its UK tour at Live at LICA in Lancaster on the 11th, arriving in London at Chelsea Theatre on the 30th July. The performance will be accompanied by a conference at Lancaster University, Jelinek in the Arena: Sport, Cultural Understanding and Translation from Page to Stage.


Diana Damian Martin

Diana Damian Martin is a London-based performance critic, curator and theorist. She writes about theatre and performance for a range of publications including Divadlo CZ, Scenes and Teatro e Critica. She was Managing Editor of Royal Holloway's first practice based research publication and Guest Editor for postgraduate journal Platform between 2012-2015. She is co-founder of Writingshop, a long term collaborative project with three European critics examining the processes and politics of contemporary critical practice, and a member of practice-based research collective Generative Constraints. She is completing her doctoral study 'Criticism as a Political Event: theorising a practice of contemporary performance criticism' at Royal Holloway, University of London and is a Lecturer in Performance Arts at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.



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