Bbeyond came into being early in 2001, both as a result of individual artists interests in the Performance Art genre but also as an indirect result of a proposal made by Artur Tajber from Kraków, Poland, during a Catalyst Arts discussion in 1998. Artur proposed that a more formal link be established between Belfast and Krakow/Poland. His proposal was based on a series of previous projects between artists in Kraków and Belfast, including: Polish-Irish Exchange started in mid eighties (initiated by Alastair MacLennan, Gerry Gleason, Pawel Chawinski and Artur Tajber), experience of gt gallery in Kraków and its exchange programme, Available Resources – Orchard Gallery, Derry 1991, Free City of Kraków – Bunker Sztuki, Kraków 1995, and 24 Hour (Equinox project) – Fort Sztuki, Kraków, 1997.
Brian Patterson and Malgosia Butterwick began discussions on establishing a further project between both cities. As result of their initial discussions, an informal committee was established, which included Brian Patterson, Malgosia Butterwick, Alastair Mac Lennan, Peter Richards, Brian Kennedy, Rainer Pagel, and Brian Connolly. This committee was formalised into Bbeyond on 22nd May 2001 and a Mission Statement was developed:
Bbeyond is committed to promoting the practice of performance art and artists in Northern Ireland and further afield. Our aim is to raise people’s consciousness of live/performance art as being integral to the world in and around us, inspiring reflection and enriching lived experience.
We host artists of international reputation throughout the performance art world and encourage newer artists to experience performance art practices for themselves. Bbeyond encourages greater access to and appreciation of this visually based art form, through facilitating modes of active private/public participation, allowing people from all sectors of society, not just the traditional arts, to experience and enjoy performance art directly.
This hypothesis for Bbeyond has a two-fold nature, one the ‘actual’, the other liminal, one based on the physical/literal journey, the other on a more elusive journeying through the process of being and becoming.
The literal, overtly physical aspect deals with the location of Belfast and hosts international artists here to present work alongside local artists, thereby increasing the knowledge and consciousness of performance art here and increasing opportunities for local artists to travel abroad.
The liminal nature deals with transition, transformation and transcendence. This is the more subtle aspect and the power of the work rests in that it can only be realised in the process of actual being and doing. “Bbeyond” has the potential to become a directional force towards a lived philosophy of being, that continues long after the framing of any specific performance has ended, becoming the real transitioning and transforming energy in the life consciousness of the practitioner, to literally ‘be beyond’.
Siobhán Mullen (Chair), Rainer Pagel (Vice-Chair), Alastair MacLennan, Brian Connolly, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Jayne Cherry, Cherie Driver, El Putnam