Friday 13 January 2017

'We Are Fluid' - Elaine McGinn

GUEST 2 is the 2016 end-of-year show at the ADF Gallery. A selection of work from Award winning artists with disabilities curated by Dr. Colin Darke. The exhibition runs to 27th January 2017.

Elaine Mcginn performed a live performance art piece in the gallery, her inspiration coming from the linen mills of the 80s and 90s. '...her memories...within the context of local and global socio-political change...signifies what she sees as "cultural fragmentation"...'

It's still early days for me and performance art. Part of me feels it's alien, something I don't quite grasp. However, if I view the performance while relating it to visual art, an artform I'm comfortable with - seeing the artist or the space as the canvas, and the performance as the paint and brush - I begin to comprehend things happening before me. The senses also hold importance - touch, smell, sight, sound and taste. 

I feel there's a certain theatre present. Meaning may be attached to costume, prop and movement. Or simply to facilitate the performance - to aid the artist move through the open window a step ladder is placed on one side, a chair on the other. I like the artist not being limited by the usual confines of the gallery space.

Time appears to be important. The artist moves slowly, her pace measured. Sometimes she holds a pose, entirely still. During the timespan she does not visibly interact with the viewers. I feel as though I am a voyeur. What is happening before me may be intensely private. There is a bigness of spirit, permitting us to watch.

Walking and sitting on a floor scattered with dressmaking pins made me worry about her pain, that worry heightened as she filled her open mouth with a cluster of pins. My nervousness dissipated slightly as she allowed pins to drop to the floor, making a delicate sound like rainfall. Metal raindrops with sharp points.

I felt the importance of following the artist outside where out of the relative safety of the gallery she might be open to verbal or even physical abuse from public. Some people wondered aloud what she was doing, another spoke angrily at all of us. It may be important to take the lead from the performing artist.

Throughout the performance the artist used a winding handle to tap on various surfaces near her - wood, metal, board, glass. 

The final minutes of the performance were spent by the artist removing pins, wet with saliva, from her mouth and fixing them to the display boards, pulling single hairs from her head and delicately hanging them onto the pins and finally draping her scarf, which had covered her head and face at the beginning, upon the pins.

What remains is a decorated white wall and the remains of the performance artist having used the space - a chair upturned and pins scattered across the floor. Respecting what remains is as important as watching the performance. Like marks made on a canvas.

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit

All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

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