Performance Art in Ireland


Artist and Performance Art Groups
  • Artists
  • Groups
  • Phil Babot
  • Michelle Browne
  • Beth Greenhaigh
  • Lee Hassall
  • Roddy Hunter
  • Sandra Johnson
  • Alastair MacLennan
  • Justin McKoewn
  • Noel Molloy
  • Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland
  • Hugh O’Donnell
  • David Sherry
  • Andre Stitt

from the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) ‘What is Performance Art/’:

“Live performance from the visual arts in Ireland is currently a vibrant practice,
grounded in responding with the physical body and psychological self. There
are many theories on how and why this kind of practice has developed, with
suggestions that such evolution is closely connected to the Troubles, amid
which artists felt conventional forms of art making failed to express the
experiences happening outside the door of the studio.
The significance of Alastair MacLennan within Irish practice cannot be
underestimated: a teacher in Belfast from the mid ‘70s, MacLennan asks his
audience to witness and co-inhabit the visceral territories he explores. In
1988 MacLennan made a seminal work, The Burn, in the shell of the building
adjoining the old Project Arts Centre in Dublin. In an eight hour non-stop
actuation (MacLennan’s term for his performance installations), he moved
slowly around the burned-out shell of the building amid rubble and specifically
placed objects, including pigs’ heads and burned-out flags, electrifying the sitespecific installation with the human body.
Another important point of reference is Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland’s
performative stance in response to the political situation in Ireland. In 1972,
O’Doherty changed his name to Patrick Ireland in a ritual performance, again
at the Project Arts Centre, in protest against the Bloody Sunday massacre in
Derry. He vowed to sign all of his subsequent artworks as Patrick Ireland. In
2008 O’Doherty buried Patrick Ireland in a Live Performance in the grounds of
IMMA in recognition of the progress of the peace process.
Samuel Beckett’s late plays, Not I, That Time and Breath, ‘exist somewhere
between installation and poetry, their strict aesthetic bringing the meditative
rhythms of visual art into performance.’ His works are essential pivots for
performance practitioners globally, but clearly have special significance for
Irish artists.”

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