Notes From a Performance Art Piece – Culture File

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Notes from a performance piece

Phase 1 – Destroyed by Life

NO EXPRESSION, EYES OPEN, SLOW
NO FEELING, EMPTY, SLAVE
EXHAUSTION

1 – Electric awaken
2 – Rise, slowly painfully
3 – Crawl to feet
4 – Splash alive
5 – Trudging walk
6 – Slow pickup case
7 – Ride invisible train
5 – Smash with hammer
6 – Knocked back by an invisble wave
7 – Collapse
8 – REPEAT 1 to 7
9 – Hanging / rope break
10 – death

When Sebastian Dooris asked me to help him with one of his ‘projects’, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had recently been knocked down, pushed off a forty story building and shot through the heart.

Seb and Emma Injection make up the experimental musical duo ‘Deathness Injection’. Improvising each ferocious new performance, the pair don outrageous costumes, dual theramins, and fuse industrial beats with pedalled improvisation. They perform on beeches, in art centres or abandoned space, sometimes with fellow noise makers like Luxury Mollusc, occassionally with hundreds of passers by. Now me, I’m about as musical as a puppys snore. Luckily Deathness Injection didn’t want me to play with them, they wanted me to dance.

I didn’t let my lack of formal training, or the fact that I’ve never danced in public slow me for a second. I realised I had everything needed for such a performance. Cycling thighs, a house mate with a bachelors degree in special effects make up, and no shame what so ever.

My inspirations – Beckett’s Catastrophe, Bob From Twin Peaks, and Oliverier de Saganzan, whose 2008 piece ‘surmodelage du crâne et de la face’ is the number one hit when you google ‘French performance artist’. The obvious ridiculousness of a middle aged man wigging and twitching to improvised industrial noise music, only increased the appeal. regieme

I begin to craft a skull cap, a waxy nub to keep my hair clean during my on stage transformation. I ordered a silver one piece suit from the internet, that would faile to arrive in time – decreasing the shiny strippyness of my planned denoutement. I began a regieme of physical training, cycling daily around the Pheonix park, dilligently entering all meals into MSN diet tracker.

Phase 2 – Transformation and rejection

1 – Rise with new life
2 – Discover brief case
3 – Worship / find solace in case
4 – Meet audience eyes
5 – Open case – HANGING OVER (pushup, crawling in)
6 – Build face – hiding in case – ORGASMIC – SLOW – MOVING and crawling
7 – Start with beak – rolling eyes
8 – Moaning / uncovering
8 – PAINT face – with hands
9 – Self discovery / celebration – BEND BACK – RISE with awkwardness
10 – New Body – Animation dance
11 – REJECTION – quivering fear walk – Tormented by music
12 – Cowering – invisible box
12 – collapse
13 – On back limb writhing
14 – Fight to rise – stand
15 – Cruicified

In the video of our first rehearsal, I’m visibly nervous, pacing about in a Trinity FM hoody, awkwardly making shapes. Little did I realise how a mere month of rehearsals will build from this quivering flesh a transfiguring artist.

Private parties, crustie hippies in their water logged mountain idyls growing vegetables, juice and credibility – not so much bugging out as tuning out, turning off and plugging out. Their music an ironic mix of 90’s hardcore, high BPM industrial techno and Bauhasian baroque retro classics.

Somewhere between a large house party and a small festival, Species Gothic Arts and Culture Gathering – wilfully hidden in the Leitrim mountains, is part of a new breed of curated parties. Not quite the debauched bacchanal of the 90’s rave scene, neither the security heavy Disnified boutique festivals that have sprung up on the wake of the death of Oxygen: Vantastival, bestival, Knock * Stocking – for every one of these mini festivals there are a douzen events like this. New age hippies, crusties and outsiders coming together to make psychedelic art, play their music ear bleedingly loud abd wear their freakiest clobber. Performers include Tragedy Vampires, Sugarplum Suicide, Kraven Brainz, DJ Fracture, Burden, DJ Flesh, Venus De Vilo, Last Bus to Nowhere, Bending Wrongs, Fallen Demon.

Phase 3 – Persecution and Assimilation

GRADUALLY BECOME MONSTER

1 – Shake off / break off face
2 – Sliding feet leg invert
3 – Hand across face to reveal expressions
4 – Lapping and suckling / abjection
5 – Feet together move top waving plant – Bob
6 – Lick and creep forward in one place – predated to predator
8 – Trusting legs in place
9 – Slow lurking walk – Pappa Lazaru
10 – Hands over head – Guermo Del Toro
11 – Shit on case
12 – Molest and consume case
13 – Engage audience
14 – Start to suffer
15 – Calcify
16 – Breaking and slowing and crumpling
17 – Can’t reach the case – fighting the seizure
18 – Horrible realisation and standing – this is real

We are deluged of course – what else in early May Ireland. Everywhere tents collapse like soufflés or blowing away all together in the gale force wind. We congregate in a corrugated shed plastered with Halloween themed folk art. A shrine to Wednesday Adams & Cthulhu shares wall-space with a Rubenesque blacklight water nymph and a two tone skull gobbling Laverne wood cut.

After civilisation collapses we’ll all live like this – small clumps of sustainable humanity hammering club thumpers into the encroaching night. The rolling hills of Leitrim are an ideal location for this kind of escapist awakening. The moss eroded walls of ancient small holdings climbing erosion rent hills of gorse and bracken. Old polymorphous woods concealing fairy secrets and freudian sins.

The outskirts of Leitrim are one of those places, like Waterford and Kinvara, where Britain’s new age travellers settled in large numbers as the UK grew rabbidly intolerant of their wandering ways. All across Ireland little enclaves of second and third generation hippie kids have grown up, fertilising the local arts scene.

King of the mountain is Illiocht O’Brainz, a dread locked Irish American clad in a kilt, Dennis the Menace jumper with a storm cape thrust over his shoulders like a lord of Winterfell.

Along with his wife, artist Harriet Myfanwy Nia Tahany, they serve as a nexus for local artists. Their property is a haunted mansion dotted with ram skulls, soft core fairy pinups, a bottles of potions with names Life Renewal Potion. The grounds have been prepared by a corps of young artists, dotted with decomposing corpses, miniature graveyards and alien sculptures.

Armed with a vague familiarity with the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the instruction to create a physical interpretation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, I set out to make a holy fool of myself. I don my skin wig and paint my face with clay in the portaloo. Hurrying back to the performance shed I swaddle my head in a rain coat to stop it melting off. I lie on a hemp tarp in this overly bright room. The music begins. Time slows. I am the tormented man, struck down by the weight of society. I smash my mime hammer against the rocks of social obligation. As the first act reaches it’s titanic crescendo I bend down to pick up an invisible noose, and end my futile existence.

I rise again in act two, crawling desperately towards a case containing what? Some salvation? Some dream of a better existence? I paw and lap the case with ferocious need. Finally it springs open in my hands and I bury my face within. The audience crane forward, what’s he building in there? Finally, after an eternity of thrusting and heaving I emerge from the case, a hideous creature of clay transfigured by their disapproving eyes. I stumble about, screaming and twitching, like a fawn born wrong. Finally I am crucified – my arms hammering themselves into the air, as my breath collects in great simpering clouds. A one man allegory for lots of deep things.

Act three, I am born again – a sexy rapacious beast, revelling in the horror. I shake off my latex skull cap – unashamed of my human hairThey have made me one of them, and they shall suffer for it. I crawl about on hands and knees, lapping at them, in a display of terrifying eros. Seb climbs from the stage and I rise to twitch with him. But it’s too much for me, I turn to the audience in horrendous revelation. This is what I have become. I look down at my hands, drenched in clay, my suit, a mix of the white and black paint I previously poured over my head. I turn to them as if to say – see, see I am a man after all. I assume a pose at once proud and abject. I wait for the music to finish. It doesn’t… I’ve horribly mistimed my big finish. Think fast, I think… I could stand like this for a bit, or wait, no, the old faithful foetal position. That’s the ticket. I shrink into a ball and wait for the end, as we all do, ultimately. It is magnificent.


Tracks used

Live recording, ‘Deathness Injection at Species 2015’
Deathness Injection – Deathness Before the Storm
Deathness Injection – Testament
Deathness Inection – Sexy Veil of Shame
Deathness Injection – Clangwarp

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