From Sex & The City NYC to Rathmines
The first time I encountered performance art was in an episode of Sex & The City, when Carrie goes to Chelsea to see a woman not talking or eating for 16 days. The purpose, the artist was attempting to change the energy of the world. Charlotte described it as significant and moving whereas Carrie, while trying to impress a famous Russian womaniser, suggested she was going to nip to McDonalds when no one was watching to get a big mac. He scathingly replied “you are comic”. Performance Art 1, Carrie 0.
My view is somewhere in the middle – I love the idea of pushing boundaries but I can’t say I really ‘get it.’ I am a little familiar with Marina Abramovic but that is about it so when the opportunity came up to help out at The Dublin Live Art Festival I figured the best way to understand it all was to get involved.
The festival ran over 4 days, last weekend, and was directed by Niamh Murphy from The Mart which is in the old fire station in Rathmines. It’s an artist led initiative focused on contemporary art. With 66 studios and 110 members, performance art is just a part of what they showcase, but that is the reason why I ended up in Rathmines last Thursday night.
The part of the festival I was helping out at were the performances from various members of the Livestock performance art platform. They are made up of young and more established performance artists and to the best of my knowledge is the only regular performance art collective in Dublin.
On the night, my jobs included selling beer and cupcakes, cleaning up wet floors and mopping up blood (which was thankfully food colouring). I was able to see parts of most acts but the one I saw from start to finish was Media Drip by Sarah Diviney and Clodagh Dermody as I was asked to video it. I don’t think anyone needs to hear my review of the piece, as clearly I am an amateur in this arena. I will say I found it really interesting and thought provoking, maybe even moving, like Charlotte told The Russian. For me, the girls were performing a narrative on the social media selfie culture and the darker elements that lurk behind the perfect selfie mentality.
What I got from the evening was that performance art is a very personal thing. You watch the performer from such close proximities you can’t fail to get something out of it. It is so much more up close and personal than my experience of the theatre. I was unsuccessful in trying to remove some fake blood out of an audience members shirt after one act.
The audience might not interpret the piece exactly as the artist intended, but maybe with contemporary art, once you are getting an audience and a reaction that’s a win. Some of the pieces were elegant and graceful in the vein of contemporary dance. Some shockingly brutal around the theme of child abuse and self harm and one was a completely bananas duo, who meet up in clandestine locations to make shit of themselves (their words not mine!).
I really enjoyed helping out on the night and it would definitely encourage me to go out and explore more performance art so to sum up I’d say Performance Art 2, Carrie 0*
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*Clearly my scoring system does not take into account her amazing shoe collection, fantastic wardrobe of dresses or general covetable lifestyle!!