The Story Collector

I am currently in Orkney where I will be conducting an art project looking at how storytelling affects our relationships with the lanscapes we live in and the creatures that we share them with. Throughout my visit I will be posting about my experiences and the stories I find.

More information about the project and the posts relating to it can be found under The Story Collector section on the menu above.

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Performing Worlds

So Performing Worlds will be kicking off in style this Saturday and with just under a week to go final preparations are happening throughout the city…

What I’ve seen of the exhibition install at the Hannah Maclure Centre is looking great and the programme is now out and about around the city (pick one up from various locations including Camperdown Wildlife Park and the Central Library)

I am putting the finishing touches to my work and finalising plans for my performance at Camperdown Wildlife Park on Monday 11th.

I will also be tweeting live about the schedule and events throughout the week so follow @performingnow to be kept up to date.

Tonight the Performance Platform will be devising the Times Rope performance which will be the first event of the week on Saturday.

It’s going to be an exciting week jam-packed with performances, talks, lunches and more so spread the…

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One Sunny Sunday

The glorious weather is tempting me towards lazy days reading on the green however June is almost upon us and I still have plenty to do…

The Performing Worlds event will begin on the 9th June and will continue in various locations throughout Dundee until the 15th (visit http://www.d-air.org/performing-worlds for the full programme). I will be embodying various animal personas during the week and will have a couple of situated performances as well.

The first of these performances will take place at the Camperdown Wildlife Park on Monday 11th and will present the human animal in its destructive capacity, as the most dangerous animal on display at the zoo.  The second of which will take place on Friday 15th in the City Square and will be an enquiry into Dundee’s relationships with animals. I will post further details soon so watch this space…

One Wet Wednesday

Last Wednesday I ran a performance workshop for the D-AiR Performance Platform assisted by the lovely and exuberant Morgan Cahn. Despite the drizzly weather we boldly left the HMC and took to the streets to explore our relationships to the city and one another.

This workshop was intended to allow the participants to explore the familiar city and how they inhabit it in a new and bodily way; hopefully raising questions and bringing new insight into how we dwell in the city in our everyday lives. It also explored the way we relate to other beings in the city and what it means to share space.

I was please to receive a lot of positive feedback from the group, who all seemed to enjoy themselves and who hopefully got something out of the exercise.  I was extremely moved by how everyone seemed to really commit to the scenarios I proposed. I know from attending workshops in public spaces myself that it can be a little daunting to step outside the realm of ‘acceptable’ behaviour especially when there are passers by who bear witness to your actions but I was glad that no one participating felt they had been pushed too far.

Here are just some of the images captured of the workshop.

Buzzcut (busy busy)

Yet another busy week this week, organising and setting up for the next few months work…

Last weeks performance events went great!

In the Absence of… was a huge success. Having spent the day at a workshop run by Richard Layzell we were all really ready and warmed up and I think it showed. Sylvia Law performed a stunningly simple resonance piece in which she sang through a hollow wall to someone on the other side. Both pressed into the corners facing the wall, the result was a beautiful and powerful one to one experience. I performed my piece Felis Felix (Happy Cat) which I will describe in a later post, which I think went down well.

Saturday night was Crawl Inclusive an art crawl around Dundee. I was part of the For Sale performance which consisted of a manic estate agent showing the house to visitors who were confronted by strange scenes in each room, a girl staring into a fridge full of milk cartons, a cat stroking a humans hair and feeding them cat shit from a litter tray, a girl in a bath peeling potatoes and fish with a razor and a half-dressed man ‘masturbating’ a tube of mascara. This was just one of many great performances on the night (most of which I unfortunately missed).

This weekend is also busy busy… The opening of the RSA:New Contemporaries exhibition is tomorrow night in Edinburgh, then Sunday is the screening of the Dundee Performance Collective’s collaborative video piece with Bbeyond at the Buzzcut festival in Glasgow.

I will be back with more next week…

 

 

Pinch Punch…

March is shaping up to be a very busy month for me so in the spirit of shameless self promotion here are the events I am part of this month…

In the Absence of…

Thursday 8th, 6.30pm, Hannah Maclure Centre, Dundee

An evening of performance kicked off by Richard Layzell, followed by various performances from artists working in Scotland.

Crawl Inclusive

Saturday 10th, various venues, Dundee

An art crawl around Dundee, visiting several venues for exhibitions and live works. I will be part of For Sale which is taking place at 5 Bellefield Avenue at around 7.30pm.

Water Cafe (W.C.)

Friday 22nd, time and place tbc

As part of World Water Day there will be various live events in Dundee including walks, talks, film screenings and a pop up cafe.

Engendering Dialogue

Friday 30th – Saturday 31st, DJCAD, Dundee

A two day symposium examining Feminism in art today. I will be performing on the Friday morning and then taking part in a panel discussion with Hannah Champion, Mary Modeen and Eleanor Morgan.

 

Most of these events are free and open to the public, but may require a booking. Please follow the links for more info.

Gallery Cat

GENERATORprojects members show 2012 is currently open and will be until the 26th of February.  It’s a great show this year; lots of high quality work which the GENERATOR team have curated very well into a nicely balanced and interesting exhibition.

My piece, Gallery Cat, is a response to my recent research into animals in art and especially their presence in a gallery. This years members show reflects the boom of the animal as art medium of recent years; including a photo of a dead robin and a taxidermied rooster. The presence of the animal body in a gallery can have a very powerful effect.

My piece however presents the absence of the animal. In the corner of the gallery a cat bed is placed accompanied by a food/water bowl, some toy mice and a used litter tray. White fur clings to the bed and toy mice scattered through the gallery hint at the presence of a cat but there is no cat to be seen.

There were several reasons and considerations behind me exhibitiong this piece as I did (including jokey nods to Tracey Emin and Marcel Duchamp) and I want to leave these open to interpretation, however I have one particular aspect which has been on my mind that I would like to share with you.

In recent years there have been many ethical concerns over artworks which have used live animals in the white cube, including the infamous Exposicion No1 by Guillermo Vargas which an internet petittion gave global coverage and debate to. As the details of the exact treatment of the dog were never confirmed it still remains a mystery as to whether the dog died or escaped, however the legacy of this piece was to open up the discussion of the ethical considerations of using other living beings in art. Since then, to some, it has become abhorrent to have a live animal in a gallery as artwork.I am interested to see what (if any) reaction the mere suggestion of a live animal may cause.

In this case the animal is a cat; often imbued with human qualities of aloofness and independence, would our feelings change if the presence was that of a different animal; say a tiger, or a cow, or a rat?

While at the opening for the show a woman was walking about carrying a small dog. That night the gallery held the presence of a live dog, a dead rooster and an absent cat.

Pets and Pests

We have shared our homes with animals for thousands of years and although it is easy to think of the city as a purely human domain this is not the case; other species are cohabiting with us in this crowded habitat just as they always have.

Some, like cats, dogs and hamsters etc, we actively chose as our companions, others, such as robins, butterflies etc, we openly invite into parks and gardens for our pleasure, while still others, rats, pigeons and bugs, are unwelcome guests in our homes and streets.

So what determines our relationships with different species of animals and why are some considered ‘pets’ while others are labelled ‘pests’? Why do we engage with some species more than with others and how does this affect our relationship with them? What happens when a species crosses the boundary and is re-categorised?

With these questions in mind I have begun to investigate Dundee’s animal populations. I have been lucky enough to speak to people from the Countryside Ranger service and from Dundee City Councils pest control team, all of whom have been extremely helpful in providing starting points for my explorations.

In the coming weeks I intend to continue these dialogues with a view to creating artworks which open up discussion and create awareness of the diversity of life in Dundee and how we may be able to create and maintain a balance.

Cat among the pigeons

London is full of pigeons. It is their perfect environment and they occupy the city in unnatural numbers. Like many other urban animals, pigeons exploit the protection and sustenance the city offers. There is always food to be found, in bins, on the street after bars close or directly from the human hand (sometimes shared, sometimes stolen).

Natural cliff dwellers, city buildings provide the perfect nest sites for pigeons. There is plenty of space so there is little competition for the best nest sites and very few predators. Add to this the warmth and protection from adverse weather that tall buildings and human activity provides and you have the perfect habitat for pigeons.

Finding myself with some free time one day I began to stalk the pigeons. I chose an individual and followed it for as long as I could. When I lost it I would choose another and follow that pigeon instead. I followed as they bobbed along, pecking at cigarette butts and chewing gum on the pavement, as they flitted from bench to branch and back again. I watched them squabble over discarded chips and limp through a forest of commuters’ legs.

As I stalked the pigeons through London I realised I was moving differently to the other people in the street. They walked with purpose; fluidly and rhythmically at speed while I moved slowly, pausing, considering, stepping lightly. I viewed the city through hunters’ eyes, noticing details invisible to the rush of people around me. Aware of the sounds of birds, the smell of spices from an open window nearby and the feel of cobbles beneath my feet, my senses heightened, I moved like a cat across the city with no particular direction. Before long I was lost. It was wonderfully freeing. With no idea where I was I let my instincts lead me until I found the river and was back in familiar territory.

This time meandering through the streets of London allowed me to meditate on city life and our relationships with the animals we share it with (willingly or otherwise). Dundee is of course a lot smaller than London, however its proximity to open countryside as well as the sea allows for a huge diversity of life.

I began to question what exactly our relationships with other animals in the city are; how do we negotiate sharing city space with such diverse creatures? What problems arise from this close proximity? And what does it mean to be an Urban Animal?