Brian Patterson | Marita Bullman | Cumulator 11| Void Gallery | Derry
This documentation consists of an explanation of the Cumulator project; guidelines for the participants, reports and reflections of the experience by participants and observers, including myself; photographs and a section about insights and discoveries.
Reports are by James King unless otherwise indicated.
At a Bbeyond AGM in 2015, in response to a request for project suggestions, I suggested the idea of an incremental process. (This is something which has arisen in various forms in my performance work over the years e.g. (1) As Jimbo the clown, exponentially increasing the length of a run-up to jump over a suitcase – first placed flat and sideways, then lengthways, then on its long side, and finally standing tall on its short side. I would begin with a short run, then for each new suitcase position gradually increase the distance until finally exaggerating the run into the far distance (2) In the seventies, working with David Irving in a minimalist street art project: slicing an apple; first cutting it in half, then halving one half, halving one quarter, one eighth, one sixteenth, etc.).
I was also interested in the concept of different people carrying out the same action in different places at the same time, ever since three of us changed into Superman costumes in phone boxes at different parts of Belfast and converged in the city centre, to determine which one of us was the “real” Superman.
The proposal was approved by the committee: in January, the first month, one person would perform for one hour; in February, two people would perform for two hours, though they both need not be in the same location – only be performing at the same time for the same length of time…and so on, until twelve people would perform in December. There would be one performance a month, but not on any particular date. Thus the following schedule eventually materialised:
Cumulator 2016: The Schedule
- Saturday, January 23rd, 11.00am – 12.00pm Wedderburn Park. Lisburn Rd. Belfast. James King
- Friday, February 12th. 12.00pm – 2.00pm Yellow Yard Store, Palace Street, Derry. James King, Caroline Murphy
- Tuesday, March 29th. 12.00pm – 3.00 pm Queen Street Studios, Bedford Street, Belfast. Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King
- Monday, April 18th. 4.20pm- 8.20pm Gorlitzer Park, Berlin.
Mads Floor Andersen, Sandra Corrigan Breathnach, Wahshi Kuhi, Rebecca Strain
- Saturday May 14th. 10.00am-3.00pm, Northumbria University, Newcastle.
Denys Blacker, Marita Bullmann, Victoria Gray, Christopher Mollon, Nathan Walker
- Friday, June 10th. 11.00am- 5.00pm St. Columb’s Park House, Derry
Colm Clarke, Patricia Doherty Roe, Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Conor McNamee
- Thursday, July 7th 12.00pm – 7.00pm Ballymacormick Point, Bangor.
Colm Clarke, Christoff Gillen, James King, Rainer Pagel, Brian Patterson, Keike Twisslemann, Siobhan Mullen Wolfe (Beatrice Didier, Brussels)
- Saturday, 6th August, 10.00am- 6.00pm Art Surgery, Buncrana, Co. Donegal.
Jennifer Hanley, James King, Charo Lanao-Madden, Donna Mc Feely, Ann Mc Kay, Caroline Murphy, Brian Patterson (Beatrice Didier, Brussels)
- Thursday, September 8th. 12.00pm- 9.00pm Pollen Studios Queen Street Belfast.
Marita Bullmann (Ukraine), Jayne Cherry, Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Paul King, Zara Lyness, Sara Riseborough, Valerie Whitworth (Hilary Williams, Dublin)
- Saturday, October 22nd, 10.00am – 8.0pm. Studio 11, College St. Belfast.
Marita Bullmann, Beatrice Didier, Anja Plonka (Brussels), Christoff Gillen, Jennifer Hanley, Léann Herlihy, James King, Alastair Mac Lennan, Kevin Mc Aleer, Brian Patterson
- Saturday, November 5th 10.00am – 9.00pm Void Gallery, Derry.
Marita Bullmann, Colm Clarke, Beatrice Didier, Patricia Doherty Roe, Mads Floor Andersen, Jennifer Hanley, James King, Zara Lyness, Cara Park, Brian Patterson, Caroline Pugh, Siobhan Mullen Wolfe
- Saturday, December, 10th. 9.00am- 9.00pm Echo Echo Studios, Derry.
Oona Doherty, Christoff Gillen, Jennifer Hanley, Léann Herlihy, Philip Kavanagh, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Shiro Masuyama, Teresa Mc Cormack, Brian Patterson, Rachel Rankin, Hannah Woodside
23.01.16 11am – 12pm Wedderburn Park, Lisburn Road, Belfast
Artist: James King
Theme: The focus and intention of the performance was to salute and honour each month of the year ahead in a ritual performance.
Initial layout: Twelve bags – mainly handbags of different size and colour were placed on the ground in a particular arrangement: eight were evenly spaced in a circle, approximately eight yards in diameter, representing eight compass points. Each of the remaining four were laid behind one bag at each cardinal point of the circle.
Artists clothing/appearance: Bare feet, waterproof leggings, black T-shirt, green headscarf tied around head.
Standing in the centre of the circle , James performed a “Kabuki Theatre” ritual, whilst making abstract vocal sounds. It began with the stylised simulation of a warrior saluting each point of the compass with an imaginary sword.
To begin the next sequence James faced the northern cardinal point of the circle. He stood – feet apart, knees slightly bent, hands by his sides breathing easily and waiting for his energy to gather. Suddenly he thrust both arms straight forward whilst opening out his palms and stepping forward with one foot. This action was accompanied by a loud shout, “Hah!” and repeated at the next point, and the next, until all the points had been faced. He then walked to the bag corresponding to the point at which he finished, took out a T-shirt from within and changed it with the black one which he was wearing. This process continued until the contents of the first eight bags were swapped.
Now the four “outside” bags were brought forward, forming a square and the action was repeated towards each corner of this square. Then all twelve bags were formed into one large circle, and James made a final thrust and “Hah” to each one in turn. Then he removed each bag, one at a time, to a convenient place between the trees. As he carried each bag James developed a vocal sequence, eventually incorporating each month of the year. Viz. “Jan a jan a janu, a janu, a januair, a januair, a January, January Feb, janryfebmarch……….janryfebmarch, april…………..janryfebmarchaprilmayjunejulyaugustseptemberoctobernovemberdecember!”
By this time all the bags were in a single pile between the trees. James then sat upon the pile in meditation pose, silently for a few minutes. Eventually he began to chant the word “accumulate”. He then stood up and developed a verbal “syllable stew” with the syllables and phonemes of “accumulate”, playing, repeating, separating and integrating. Eventually he slowly walked away up the adjacent grassy slope still chanting “accumulate”. At the top was a bench seat upon which he sat down, divesting himself of the bags. Then, still voicing “accumulate” James took a shirt from each bag and put them all on, one at a time.
Subsequently the words “Accumulate” and “Accumulator” were replaced by “Cumulate” and “Cumulator”, because of the materialistic associations there are with the word “accumulate”…Hence, “The Cumulator.”
Artists: James King, Caroline Murphy
Theme/title/context: The Colour Yellow
Title: Inflated Types
The spacious shop has four areas: Clothing and Furniture; Books; Records and CDs;
Bric-a-Brac and Gifts.
The artists set up within the Clothing and Furniture area, making only slight adjustments to the existing layout. Caroline placed herself beside the entrance door, backing onto a metal folding shuttered loading entrance. She initially sat on one of a row of wooden chairs. Her materials were yellow balloons, artificial yellow flowers, a yellow duck and felt tip pens. James was central in the area, seated at an old school desk. He had placed a typewriter on the desk.
Caroline wore black clothing with a multi-coloured skirt and a bright yellow shower cap, with duck eyes and beak. James wore a beige suit with yellow shirt, checked tie, women’s platform sandals, and a light brown-coloured checked cap.
– Caroline inflated a line of yellow balloons, writing phrases on them to tell a story. E.g. “There was.” “Once a.” “Yellow balloon.” “That wanted to be.” “A duck.” “Duck goes quack.” “Duck is on the head.”
– Caroline called out “Yellow” as “Yell, Low” calling in a low voice and moving to low locations e.g.. to the floor. James joined in with “low” into a glass vase borrowed from a shelf.
– James imagined the story of Red Riding Hood, pronouncing aloud gibberish versions of sentences from the story. Meanwhile he typed totally random letters. Eventually he heard Caroline say, “There once was an ugly duckling”, so he began gibberishing the Ugly Duckling story instead.
– When he had finished, the gibberish story and random typing, having typed about a page, he climbed up upon a stool. A tricky manoeuvre with the platforms on his feet.
– He then read aloud the random letters one at a time, before jumping to the ground, a feat which looks more impressive than it is. At this point, James scanned the typing for short, easily-pronounced, chance syllables. Some of the syllables made sense as short words, or parts of words. Others simply were easy to pronounce, and had no meaning.
– Whilst playing pre-recorded typing and humming sounds, James underlined chance bunches of words in the typing: some actual words, but mainly meaningless syllables.
– Going outside, James stood at the railings by the entrance to the store, and read the syllables aloud, repeating in mixed array a selection of them in a spontaneous sound poetry performance.
(There was a tension in his performance between a wish to be entertaining for the audience, and a desire to be authentically present in his actions).
– Nearly an hour had passed and James went back to his desk, to repeat the random typing process. However, soon after starting to type he was drawn to Caroline’s actions and, typing as he went, carried the portable typewriter across to her area and sat on a chair nearby.
– Caroline continued to inflate balloons, write upon them and fill up a large cardboard box. She then got into the box along with the balloons and with great effort shuffled the box, and herself, along the concrete floor.
– James typed totally randomly, becoming faster and more energetic all the time, and voicing more gibberish as he went – sounds spitting out of his mouth like a frantic squib. This was followed by more personally emotive vocalisations and angry typing as subconscious energies and associations surfaced. The typing eventually became more rhythmical with a repeated, “one, two”, sequence.
– He then read aloud from his automatic typing. He read bunches of letters as they appeared, without any selection, normally almost unpronounceable but possible with practice e.g. “bchhduehg nvkkeofkdpwp qowoeufhdncn axwpdhfjefj jfkdm bogey”. Then in a sing- song voice, resembling singing he chanted rhythmically two letters at a time e.g. b-c h-h d-u e-h g-n…
– Other moments: Caroline sitting adjacent to James and holding a roll of yellow insulating tape in one hand, the free end in her mouth. Pulling open the tape with one hand, she continued to write the duck and balloon story on one side. She bundled the free end of the tape in her mouth as she went along. James typed the same words on paper, as were written on the tape.
– Caroline speaking aloud free association thoughts of her present, here-and-now experience, and writing them down at the same time e.g. “twenty to two, twenty minutes to go. Oh, I’m losing concentration…I am now looking at a piece of white paper, I think I will now write on one of those tissues”…etc.
– James began doing the same thing, speaking aloud thought associations as he typed the words. Eventually James became hooked on the word “extinction”. He began to repeat it, backwards and forward, and play with the sounds and phonemes within it, repeating various rhythms and tones and as many combinations of sounds as spontaneously occurred to him.
He then slowly tore the paper into shreds and the shreds into confetti. Until the time was up.
29th March 2016, 12.00pm- 3.00pm
Queen Street Studios. Bedford Street Belfast.
Artists: Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King
In the inner room of the gallery, Jagoda began with a memorial ritual for her late father whose funeral she had deliberately not attended.
The images of the ritual included Jagoda seated on a chair wearing a plain white smock, arms and legs bare. A large mirror was at her feet and maths papers were scattered on the floor. She poured yoghurt onto one of her legs. On the floor adjacent to where she sat was a blanket covering a bed of ice and some yellow dye. Jagoda lay face down outstretched upon the blankets as the ice slowly melted.
When she emerged into the outer room of the gallery Jagoda was wearing black and was draped in a long piece of turquoise silk material. She carried a rain stick covered in white cloth, which was eventually removed, to reveal the stick’s golden colour. Attached to her back were a pair of angel’s wings.
James and Christoff meanwhile had begun their actions in the outer room, including James doing some automatic writing (see below).
Most dramatic was the sight of Christoff, scratching on his bare tummy with a scalpel, in capital letters the word WAR, till his blood flowed.
This was accompanied by agonised vocal sounds, which James echoed with high pitched calls and extended facial expressions of distress.
This was followed by James playing mellow abstract notes on a tenor recorder.
By this time Christoff had removed his outer garments except for shorts and was curled on the floor in distress. Assisted by Jagoda, James removed his own blue shirt and green T-shirt and put them on Christoff. He himself cut holes in and put on a black plastic bin-liner, which had contained white feathers recently scattered over the floor by Christoff when he had burst the bag at an earlier stage in the performance.
James read random syllables from a children’s book, “Making Angels in the Snow”. James lay amongst the scattered white feathers and made an angel pattern, repeatedly moving his arms from his sides along the floor to meet above his head and back again; watched by Jagoda wearing her angel wings.
Together then, James and Jagoda stood under the turquoise canopy and tore snowflake size pieces of paper from the book and let them flutter to the floor.
Meanwhile Christoff unrolled a large ball of red wool which he threaded throughout the gallery from every available point of attachment, forming an enormous web.
Finally, the three came together in a prolonged group hug.
To recount my performance:
I sat on the chair, wearing a simple white gown made of unbleached linen, with bare arms and legs. My bare feet rested on a mirror. Before me, there was a white bed of linen fabric. From a nearby bucket I took ice cubes and placed them on the bed. The moisture from the ice started to reveal powdered yellow-green pigment placed between the layers of the linen. After distributing the ice, I started reading mathematical problems quietly, and was also scattering sheets of paper with the maths problems. Then I poured yoghurt onto my leg, until it ran onto a mirror, and then I lay down on the ice on the bed. When I calmed down, I stood up and cut off a piece of blue silk that was under the chair. I wiped my leg and the mirror. For a few minutes, I was walking around the bed holding the silk, then I changed into black clothes and put on wings that I prepared earlier on. I put the white dress and the silk used for wiping my leg on the bed. I took the rest of the silk and a rainstick wrapped in a piece of linen, and went to the room where James and Christoph were working.
James King (written during the performance)
As we have tea
And I feel limitations
Or perhaps impending conditions
A sense of urgency is
4 is the answer
Maybe in Berlin
There is space
Height and width and depth
There is history
It’s our future present
I trust you
I welcome you
Now let’s begin
The beginning now starts
It will end
So hurry slowly
See, see, play with me,
will we play
You and you and
Me. Let’s see
Park on an afternoon
Nothing to do
But play some game
Turn so trick
And bind yourself
18.04.16. 4.20pm – 8.20pm. Gorlitzer Park, Kreuzeberg, Berlin.
The location was in the vicinity of the bridge spanning a canal which formally marked the border between East and West Berlin.
Artists: Sandra Corrigan Breathnach, Mads Floor Andersen, Wahshi Kuhi, Rebecca Strain.
Sandra’s Action (written by James King)
access YouTube link here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSKZNCnoafU&feature=youtu.be
The weather was fine and dry, with some spells of sunshine and an occasional strong breeze; cold during the latter part of the four hours – as evidenced by the redness of Sandra’s bare-arms in the fading light.
Sandra wore a sleeveless full length smock of light brown linen material, and on her head an improvised covering made from long strips of the same.
For most of her performance she remained on the bridge itself, and fairly central to it. Initially Sandra placed on the ground a line of seven pieces of self-made charcoal, about a yard or so apart. Her central and sustained action was to crochet a ball of twine into a long, thin rope, using a natural piece of wood as a thick needle with which to loop the twine over itself and form the continuous braid. The ball of twine lay on the ground nearby. Sandra worked with a fast, steady and lively rhythm.
Eventually Sandra had crocheted enough rope to enable her to tie the end of it to an overhanging branch on the eastern side of the bridge. She also knotted into the rope some of the pieces of charcoal. At the point where she had placed the first piece of charcoal Sandra drew a circle about three feet across – using another piece of charcoal. She stood here in stillness in the centre of the circle, holding the rope of twine high so that it formed a floating loop in the freshening breeze, before resuming her task.
When the rope was long enough, Sandra tied the other end to a branch at the western end of the bridge. Now she moved off towards some reeds growing below the western approach to the bridge. These were eight-foot-long stalks of dry, firm grass, growing beside a small lake, in the centre of which spouted a fountain.
Sandra gathered about a dozen of the stalks into a bundle, and carried them slowly to the bridge, cradled in one arm.
Once there, Sandra very slowly walked along sweeping the ground with the reeds, leaving a trail of parallel lines behind her.
She stood beside the railing of the bridge, gazing down the southern stretch of the canal, blessed by the fading sunlight. She gazed reflectively at the reflecting water’s gently rippling surface, before tossing there the dried reeds. They floated, forming runic patterns, spreading, flowing downstream before slowly sinking and disappearing from view.
Returning to the bridge’s western end, Sandra gathered white blossom from a bordering tree, which she delicately gave to spectators, softly pressing each person’s hand as she moved away. Finally, she crouched in the central, by a now, slightly faded, charcoal circle: still, meditative, calm. Accomplished.
Her strong presence had held the space, and created a focal point to which Mads and Rebecca could return from their occasional excursions; whilst being a counterpoint to Wahshi’s sojourn on the western pathway.
Sandra Corrigan Breathnach
I arrived with Keike hot peppermint tea in hand that she had bought me in a small newsagent type shop opposite the park, we were running a little bit behind time, the park seemed to extend itself during the night, it had transformed itself from a dark murmuring pathway linked by dim lamp light into an extensive vibrating green space and the space seemed to go on and on, shadows in the dark now became firm objects with recognizable form. As had been the case on the night preview a telecommunication network picked up interest in our presence, this slightly unnerving,
I was reassured when we came to the bridge friendly faces and a new face in the meeting of Alanna who was to document some of the event.
I took in the space and began to get ready, putting on my linen clothing with a little help from James and choosing which of my two wooden sticks which I had fashioned to crochet the twine with, it was a natural jute twine with a musty smell. Once fully dressed I placed seven pieces of charcoal in a line delineating the space. I found my place on the bridge and began to work the twine slowly a rhythm began to form and I was there, surroundings fizzled out and my focus began to steady, each link connected to the next and my thoughts flowed with their interconnection to thoughts of each one as if a being, a person, people past and present. I was drawn to the tree beside me leaning over the bridge’s side tying the first part of the worked twine onto one of its branches, the tree became my anchor physically but also on another level, I felt a real connection beginning to form and I drew comfort from the tree and its elongated gray trunk-like branches.
From this distance I could see another tree with yellow drooping branches moving in the wind, this was to be my connection on the other side. As the piece began to grow I began to use the wind, holding it up high as to lift it off the bridge and shapes took form in the air and in the shadows on the bridge floor which was covered in a sandy grit giving it a crunchy texture. I created a circle using the charcoal marking the ground defining a space, it seemed a little heavy so using my fingers I began to merge the marking with the grit of the bridge, I interwove two pieces of the charcoal into my twine piece, going on instinct this felt right, just two. The charcoal initially was being respected by the many passers-by curious as to what was taking place and then slowly it became crushed Irish charcoal merging with the gritted path of Germany at an intersection of East and West.
By now the length of my twine had grown enormously and so had its weight, for some reason lifting the crocheted twine high in the air became a task in its-self, allowing it to drop low to the ground for the passing bikes, dogs and walkers. The breeze began to cool and I caught moments of sun closing my eyes to feel its warmth. My awareness was drawn to Mads behind me a couple of people had been talking to him for some time, my focus returned and the beauty of the water caught my eye.
For the later half of the connection, people began to make comments, my German being very poor I did not understand most of it but smiled and acknowledged them, but there were a couple of verbal interactions which particularly stood out and made me smile, two young boys and their mother on their bikes, with one of the little boys very inquisitive, his mother had very good English and I was able to answer all his questions, he had a small basket with a couple of toys in the front of his bike and put a piece of charcoal ‘Aus Irland’ in it that I gave him to draw with later.
The second was with two round elderly men, one of whom opened his coat proudly to show me his jumper that his wife had made, I thought this was very endearing and enjoyed the connection he had made.
As I neared the connecting point on the far side of the bridge I began to realise that I would not be able to attach the piece to the tree as I had hoped, a woman approached me with a group of teenage students possibly older, and asked if I could talk to her, I pointed her in the direction of James where he began to answer questions which she translated to the students, it was a strange scenario to feel suddenly like an exhibit, this free outdoor setting suddenly became an encased space. They moved on and I turned to the bridge not wanting to tie it to the bridge itself, I looked again up at the tree, but there was no way to reach it when I suddenly noticed out from the bridge support a tree was growing in the small space that extended past the width of the bridge floor, it was growing in the gathered dirt and leaves, I felt this was very poignant and a perfect fit for the connection, when the connection was made I felt a rush to walk away, I walked quite quickly as if I needed to get some air and walked down to a small lake surrounded with dead reeds after climbing over a small barrier I began to gather the reeds breaking them down low to keep their length, on walking back I noticed my hand was bleeding. Walking back up I held the reeds near to me noticing their dead dry structure and thoughts of the temporal nature of our bodies came into my mind.
When I reached the bridge it seemed like a natural action that I would make a clearing using the heads of the reeds brushing them against the coarse grit on the bridge, following this I moved to the centre stepping up on the side ledge and throwing the reeds one by one into the water, I felt very sombre and reflective, they began to form patterns and floated slowly away together. Rebecca came into focus forcibly, a different plane that of modern phenomona being shoved in your face as she took a couple of ‘selfies’ beside me it was a disturbing jolt and felt very intrusive, I had been aware that this type of action would be part of her piece, but at that moment I was caught unaware deep in thought.
When I had gone down to the reeds there was a beautiful smell in the air it was coming from a large tree covered with white blossom, I took some small bundles of these and gave these as gifts.
I moved into the remnant of one of my black circles that I had drawn earlier and coiled into a crouched position by now the cold had gotten inside me and I could feel my body shaking, I used the headdress to wrap around my arms as best I could, I felt alone, unseen and yet I was aware that my positioning would disturb the flow of passers-by in the space, private emotions were stirred up inside me and a sadness enveloped me, my thoughts drifted further to those who had nothing, those who were the conveniently unseen, those who were always out in the cold. I stood up, just as I did a man went flying on the ground where I had been crouched, I was jolted into awareness of my surroundings and touched the man on his back he was hurt but ok. I walked the length of my piece following its linkage and noticed that Mads had tied his red twine around the starting point of my piece on the tree it was touching as I had not seen this action.
The whole piece finished up with all on the bridge Mads making one final gesture at the end of the bridge.
Rebecca Strain (written by James King)
Rebecca’s theme was documentation of the performance whilst being part of it. She was a participant observer.
She was dressed in black jacket and jeggings and had a camera and tripod with her. Initially she wore a pair of enormous red framed sunglasses. In the centre of the blue lenses were a pair of eyes.
Rebecca stood at various locations on and around the bridge: looking. Or crouched behind her tripod and camera: looking. Frequently she was watching and recording the performances of Mads and Sandra. Wahshi had requested not to be photographed. Occasionally she stood sculpturally: looking. When she placed the tripod on the ground, she chalked small circles around each foot, leaving a triangular constellation when she moved on.
Beneath the lower side of the bridge at the western end was a canal bank path. This widened to a flat, concrete open area on the upper side.
Here Rebecca drew in white chalk the outline of a huge pair of sunglasses. Within the frames she chalked in double letters, WAS KONEN (ibid) SIE SEHEN – i.e. What can you see? And filled in the background with white. This was highly visible from the bridge. One man in particular took a great interest: one of the African men with whom Wahshi was engaged on the main path; the men who frequent this area; the men, in a sense, whose territory it was.
After this, Rebecca returned to the vicinity of the bridge. She reddened her lips and produced a microphone. Standing under a tree, and still wearing the massive sunglasses, she spoke aloud into the microphone and, unconsciously mirroring Caroline in Cumulator Two, recited a list of everything which she could see in this present moment e.g. “I can see (repeated) …the bridge…windows…headphones…birds…women…a dog…a tail wagging…water…sky…clouds…
Later she sat in one of Mads’ chairs at the centre of the bridge. (Mads had brought along three chairs for his performances.) At this point Rebecca changed her appearance. She put a brown bag over her head and a pair of round metal goggles as worn by the well-known animation characters, the Minions. Rebecca then proceeded to take selfie photographs, with the camera on a long selfie stick. Eventually she stood at various points on the bridge, continuing this action. Photographing herself, she became a subject for observation. Eventually she moved off the bridge and performed elsewhere. At one point she sat on a bench seat, close to the canal, the selfie stick causing her to resemble a fisher person – a Minion fisher person.
A consequential development of Rebecca’s work came when Wahshi’s brother, Wafi, used some of the chalk which she had deliberately left beside her sunglasses’ drawing. Below the north side of the bridge, on either bank are two small flat-roofed buildings. Wafi climbed onto the roof on the west bank and made a drawing. This was from his memory of a child’s drawing which he had seen when working with refugee children from Afghanistan. The picture was of a flooded house. Fish swam in the river of water flooding in through the door. A bare bulb lit the inside of the house and smoke drifted from the chimney beside the television aerial.
Mads Floor Andersen (written by James King)
Mads brought along three chairs to place in a row alongside the handrail of the bridge. He sat there, eating a sandwich, casually dressed with woolly hat, scarf and trainers. He had been fasting all day, in order to prepare for the performance; believing that this would increase his capacity for sensitivity and awareness.
He had hoped that some members of the public would sit alongside him and engage in conversation. Dialogue is central to his concept of what art is about. Passers-by not accepting the offer, Mads put plan B into action.
He had with him a ball of red string: an artefact of significance to him which he has used in previous performances. He proceeded to weave a red line along the railing on one side of the bridge, looping the string around each of the vertical, iron stanchions; (an action which had a correspondence with that of Sandra crocheting twine into a long rope).
Having completed the weaving along about half of the bridge, Mads wound the red string round and round his face and head, until a substantial mask was formed.
He climbed onto the outside of the fence, to which he attached two tail ends of string coming from the mask. These cords were also held by a supportive friend standing on the bridge. Mads leaned back at a dangerous angle smoking a cigarette.
Coming back onto the bridge he again leaned away from the fence – this time from the inside; his head attached with his string mask to the railings, drinking from a bottle of beer which he had been given. His leg began to shake a little, so he went with this natural impulse, allowing his whole body to tremble in powerful agitation.
Then, having untwined himself from the string mask he flung the resulting string bundle over the railings into the water. The red mass floated downwards under the bridge- still attached to the railings above. Mads climbed down to the side of the canal, his face disencumbered. He finished off the beer as a second shaking fit occurred. After this, Mads stripped to his underpants. On his bare arms he attached two bundles of pink foam hair curling tubes. They looked like arm bands or bundles of dynamite. He dived into the water and swam to the far side of the canal, retrieving in the process the red bundle of cord which by this time had floated downstream.
From the canal bank he managed to throw the cord up onto the bridge by attaching some of the pink rods for weight. He, himself, then climbed back onto the bridge. The next act was to tie the string to a branch which held the end of Sandra’s twine. Then he wove the rest of the red string between and along the railings at the side of the bridge opposite to the railings where he had worked at the start. At the half-way point he faced the place where he had thrown the string bundle into the water. Walking across the bridge he now joined the end of the bundle to its origins. He had completed an entire loop of the bridge with one long ball of string. That’s how long a piece of string is!
Now, after returning to put on the clothes which he had left at the side of the canal, Mads did what he had set out to do. He sat on a bench beside a spectator and had a conversation.
Finally, he eventually went back to where he had started his weaving at the far end of the of the railings of the bridge. He unthreaded the string from where it had been initially tied and put this end in his mouth. There he stood in stillness above the twilight-reflecting water. Perhaps reflecting upon beginnings – and endings.
Wahshi Kuhi (written by James King)
Wahshi performed on the pathway leading up to the bridge at Gorlitzer Park.
He was dressed in his everyday clothes: jacket, chinos, slippers, woolly hat, scarf.
No props or materials. This report is drawn from a conversation I had with Wahshi after the event, as well as from what I had observed.
His way of working was to engage people in conversation. He attracted their attention by skipping up and down along the path and dancing about. He wished to discuss with them the question “Can we make a world with Art and Culture?” Followed by “If so, how? Why is it not possible? You have a culture. So have I. Can we not share? How can we make this world a world of art and culture?”
In answering, the other person would actually be engaged in creating this world of art and culture.
If the other said, “Yes, we can make a world together with art and culture”, Wahshi would ask them to show or share something from their culture e.g. Music or Dance.
The area where Wahshi was performing has groups of black African drug sellers every twenty or thirty yards along the pathway. It would be perceived as a negative area by many people. This was why Wahshi felt that this was an important space for his, and the others’ performance. There is a political background to the situation that these men find themselves in. They are forced into this lifestyle out of necessity because they have no jobs or papers.
Wahshi wanted, through art, the art of dialogue, to re-discover the positive in this space. The space itself is a positive space, although often not perceived as such, particularly by people in authority.
Wahshi engaged with many members of the public, including the African men.
I have a wonderful memory of him dancing freely, wearing the headphones of one of the men. Wahshi was dancing to African music. He told me that these men had culture but no papers. “We must open our minds and show that the space is positive!” he declared.
“We must love each other in the space. Performance is just love.”
Newcastle Cumulator (Reflections James King)
14.05.16 10am – 3pm Northumbria University Newcastle, in association with Gallery North
Artists: Nathan Walker, Victoria Gray, Marita Bullmann, Christopher Mollon, Denys Blacker.
Weather: cold, sunny, breezy.
The location had a variety of features: an open plaza, overseen by a library and revolving doors at one side; a smokers’ shelter nearby; a shop opposite; trees and shrubs; a raised pathway/corridor; a sunken extensive utility area under a stairwell.
Actions. The artists initially performed separately, at different places in the venue, before coming together in sub-groups and then a full collective.
There was little direct engagement with the public, although remarks were shouted, such as: “It must be some kind of religious ritual!”, and at one point a little girl approached Marita. I, myself, had a short conversation with an interested couple, with whom I discussed the Cumulator project, and invited them to “say what you see”, (as in the television panel game), when they had asked for an explanation of the artists’ actions.
Located at the top of the stairwell Marita began by inflating white latex balloons and attaching these to her clothes, surrounding herself in a gradually increasing mass: a frogspawn shoal of cow’s udders – each with five distinct teats. When she was well covered, a rubbery smell wafted in the breeze.
Victoria perambulated in the vicinity, vigorously rubbing her hands together at different levels: sometimes at her waist, sometimes immediately in front of her face, and sometimes held above head height. Around her face was a patterned white scarf. Later, when this was lowered she held in her mouth, at the front of her lips a small circular object: a paracetamol tablet.
Denys, totally focused, played with a foot long, solid Perspex rod; and later, also a golf-ball sized glass ball, e.g., crouched down underneath a tree, she held the rod vertically and touched it against fallen winged seeds to see if they would stick to the end when pressed down upon.
Chris suspended a long, tangled length of orange cord – which was attached to a long, orange, canvas belt, ending in a metal hook – to the railing over-looking the below ground level utility area. He then moved around in this area, swinging a yellow ball from the end of another length of orange cord. This ball was the size of a small melon, or large grapefruit. It was made from heavy plastic material which had paired eyeholes at one side; possibly a float for a fishing net.
Nathan wore a heavy orange-coloured sou’wester jacket, which had once belonged to his grandfather, and stood in several well-chosen spots, to dramatic effect e.g. standing against and facing a tree, surrounded by light shrubbery. Later he used a piece of white material, the size of a large handkerchief, to great effect – suspending it from his mouth or using it as a head covering.
At the utility area, Nathan, in orange jacket, facing, perhaps listening to – a large square industrial apparatus – a kind of enormous extractor fan or pump for the University’s heating system – then making a deliberate, slow retreat.
11.10 am. Chris, in the utility area, walking slowly alongside a wall and brushing a smooth shiny section gently with a dead leaf.
Denys balancing on the rails used for tying up bicycles: sometimes kneeling, sometimes lying, still touching the ground with her plastic rod. Crushing some of Victoria’s tablets on the ground with her foot, Denys formed small white discs. She used the dust from one of these discs to powder some of Marita’s inflated latex gloves.
Marita chalked on a low wall the words “Breastfeed yourself.”
Victoria, with a small white paracetamol tablet clearly visible in the O of her lips, stood in the revolving doors of the library, her whole self-circulating in the door with circular mouth. When anyone came along she revolved around within the slowly spinning door. (I think that the image of being caught in revolving doors has a powerful symbolic quality – prescient of Keike Twissleman at BIFPA November 2017).
Marita put an inflated pink balloon inside a red net bag and attached this to her head – with the inflated white gloves around her midriff, this was like the cherry on a cake.
11.40 am. Marita placed a tiny mouth organ in her mouth and produced quiet, abstract sounds.
Denys had a length of silver thread wound around the centre of her plastic rod. Unwinding the thread and extending her arm she looked like someone aiming a bow and arrow.
Holding one end of his length of now untangled orange cord between his teeth, Chris walked the length of the cloister overlooking the utility area.
11.45 am. The entire group became temporarily connected with the orange cord, in two subgroups: Marita and Victoria; and Chris, Nathan and Denys.
12.00 pm: Chris whipping the ground with his cord, Marita clapping her hands.
Denys biting the fingers of Marita’s glove balloons.
Denys putting white dust on her face
Victoria walking along opening and closing her hands, arms bent, palms up – as someone holding a tray – although she was rattling some tablets, revolving them in each hand. A pill remained in her mouth.
12.30 pm. Marita and Nathan interacting; Nathan with un-inflated pink balloons on his fingers and white handkerchief hanging from his mouth, partially hiding his large beard. He touched her gloves and she his pinkies.
Nathan spitting, fluid dripping from his mouth.
Chris swinging the yellow ball, while holding in his other hand a found small wooden bar.
Nathan and Marita pushing against each other, crushing the inflated white gloves, he holding the teat of one between his teeth.
Nathan inflating pink balloons and tucking them under the orange jacket.
Marita rattling bicycle locks, and ringing bicycle bells.
Nathan struggling to hold a hugged armful of inflated pink balloons and chasing escaped ones.
Denys with a small bird’s nest-like clump attached to her rod, suspending it from the rod with a piece of wire, holding it over one of the white circles on the ground.
Victoria standing outside library doors, holding a pink balloon above her head in one hand, pill visible in her mouth.
1.00 pm. Exciting moment when all come together in a formless open group.
Sub groups form: Victoria and Nathan sharing pink balloons together, seated on a bench, quietly chanting; Chris chalking parallel diagonal lines on the ground, then kneeling beside Denys who is lying down, head on glass ball, on top of white circle; Marita banging a litter bin with Chris’ yellow ball. Chris smudging out with his foot the lines he has chalked.
Marita rubbing a bench with the yellow ball in a red net bag. Denys lying on the ground, looking at two glass balls placed on separate white circles. Chris striding.
1.20 pm. The group collected together: Chris lying flat, Marita swinging the yellow ball over his face, her head red netted along with a pink balloon.
Victoria standing near Nathan, holding up two pink balloons.
Nathan prone, two pink balloons in outstretched hands, on the ground near his head.
Victoria standing, holding a pink balloon between hands held out horizontally.
Nathan prone, balloons in outstretched hands.
Marita lying supine on bench, blowing small mouth organ.
Chris on ground, supine, holding up yellow ball on orange string.
Denys rolling and kicking her glass ball around.
Victoria lying prostrate upon the supine form of Nathan, with a pink balloon beside and obscuring her head.
1.45 pm. Denys scraping the ground with one of Nathan’s small, ancient sticks of slate.
Chris swinging yellow ball. Marita rubbing bench.
Victoria rattling bench.
Pink balloon floats into the distance.
Victoria running around, possibly to get warm.
1.50 pm. group disperses.
Denys on the grass area digging a hole with the piece of slate.
Chris wandering towards the smoking shelter, swinging the yellow ball.
Denys with the plastic rod pressed between her stomach and a tree; then standing with her head against the tree.
Chris seated on a bench, yellow ball in his lap, orange cord bundled on his head.
Marita still with belt of inflated white gloves, and pink balloons at head, circling Chris at a distance, as he winds orange cord around his face.
Denys trampling some flattened gloves which have escaped from Marita.
Marita bursting the rest of her gloves on the ground.
Victoria supporting Chris’ string-wrapped head.
Nathan with white handkerchief over his head.
2.20 pm. Marita lying back on a bench, quietly breathing into her mouth organ.
Denys industriously rubbing chalk marks off her clothes.
Victoria swinging ball over back of kneeling Chris.
Nathan with hankie hanging from his mouth.
Denys watching the sun shining through a glass ball on top a white circle on the ground. Victoria (with tablet in her mouth) and Chris in a slow dance joined by the orange cord. Chris, with tangled orange cord around his head, and dangling orange tape with hook at end, hooking into Marita’s gloves.
Denys, head near the ground, cheekbone on top of a glass ball, kneeling, pushing the ball along with her face whilst looking into it.
Nathan holding orange and green cloths in either hand.
Denys revolving two balls on the ground, one in each hand.
Marita leading Chris around by his stringed head.
Nathan wearing orange sou’wester back to front, over head and chest.
Victoria holding herself, hands crossed across her stomach.
Denys revolving two glass balls on the ground.
Child approaching Marita.
Denys standing head back, looking up, right hand held to side, finger and thumb in circle mudra.
Denys kneeling, one hand making chalk circle, other revolving the glass ball.
Marita ringing bicycle bells.
Nathan with pink balloon behind and orange coat in front of head, handkerchief in one hand, burst latex gloves in other.
Victoria making a long walk around the circumference.
2.30 pm. Man shouts, “Stop that!” (i.e. ringing the bicycle bell).
Victoria standing in bicycle shelter.
Denys on bicycle rails with Chris’s string.
Denys supports Chris with string tied to him, as he stands, leaning backwards.
Chris on bicycle railings leaning forward lengthwise on tummy.
Marita rattling two pink balloons inside a lace bag, and banging the seat.
Denys wearing Nathan’s sou’wester back to front, and leaning over backwards towards him. He holding orange cord attached to Chris.
New North Mouth (by Nathan Walker )
New the long hoursofthenorth
the white cloth in my mouth
Orange bush rendezvous my
only heartache is smoking alongside the
industrial heating system and server extraction.
soaking the saliva and minutes into
a damp hanging flag.
Placing stones on my thigh.
Meanings are clarifiedaftertheact,
talking to the pink balloons unwieldy
and Castle wrist, Maywastheendofitall
holding Victoria’s arm
being held by Gray.
Here we forget there
borrowing the quadrangle place-names of the camp
charge and fail
the lasting hope of you
and the five
Five lasters, changed with stone
returned under the town may under
The pink balloons hear Christopher
Orange mouth soaking the server extraction
hanging lastinghopeofthesaliva flag and the camp charge
Meanings are clarified after the white cloth in my soaking mouth
Orange bush rendezvous my only heartache is smoking together
Meanings are clarified after the pink saliva holds minutes into a damp long stone.
After the white saliva.
Meanings are clarified after the five five thefive five.
Placing stones on my heart. Hereweforgetthere.
Damp is smoking alongside Christopher
a quadrangle white cloth in my thigh
pink stones hearing minutes.
The camp charge and minutes into a damp act, talking to the
saliva and server extraction.
Meanings are clarified after the talking
Placing stones on my mouth soaking the long pink place names
An industrial heating system and the white pink mouth soaking the saliva lung and thecampfiveumbria’s
hold the quadrangle North cagoule
charge and holding the camp charge.
The long hours of the act
talking to the act
talking to the industrial saliva my mouth soakingthequadrangle.
Place names of the act.
The five white clothers in my quadrangle heartache.
Black Saliva is clarified wound circles
and the long hours of the lasting hope.
Meanings are clarified after the lasting hope of the stone act, talking to the balloons
Each of the artists improvised individually with one or two specific objects, throughout the space, before engaging with one or two of the others, and eventually performing as a loose ensemble, in range of each other, and with some direct engagement.
There was some interplay between the participants and with each other’s objects and materials, but for much of the time each person explored the potential of their initial article.
Marita was a little bit different from the rest, in so far as she had a multiplicity of one form of item: a couple of pockets full of white latex gloves. These she inflated into cow’s udders and tied about herself until she resembled a spiky Michelin man.
Later she chalked on a low wall the words: “Breastfeed yourself.”
10.06.16 11am – 5pm. St Columb’s Parks House Derry
Artists: Colm Clarke, Patricia Doherty Roe, Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Conor McNamee
– Dark dead leaves obliterated a disused, low-rimmed footpath. My first action was to clear the leaves, sweeping them along with the side of my foot into a large bundled pile, compressing this as much as possible, like a gardener whom I had once watched on top of a wheelbarrow tramping down leaves in a slow, methodical dance. My plan to shuffle the pile further along the path evaporated when Conor placed on top of the pile a small yellow flower.
– Blue-garbed and trilby-hatted, I stood erect, balanced between two curved, tubular bicycle rails, one foot on each rail. (One green-one orange-shod.)
– I slowly climbed three levels of a high wall leading to an arched gateway and, with utmost care, crept across the high gateway arch, red-gloved hands gripping the edges.
– Chanting abstract growls and high-pitched calls, I viewed four snails found and placed by Colm on the rolled-up blue plastic rainproof cape held in my left hand. Two plain, two patterned. Both curled. They cautiously emerged and retreated into their mobile homes, and playfully snailed over each other’s rooftops. I chanted “Origins, we are one!” after Patricia, seated on a low, wide curving, cement-topped wall, talked about “the source”. I then chanted, “The source like us”, to the snails.
– Standing in front of a cement-plastered wall I pronounced a spontaneous flow of gibberish. When a recognisable word or short phrase emerged from the turbulent stream of sound I chalked it on the wall. Thus: “Malade, ask he to pot, peek, when, lick I the candy, wanted in the cook, they buy the kick it hay, why the fish.”
Later I re-wrote this to become:
when kick it hay
I lick the candy fish
to peek and pot
and pot to peek
at candy fish they buy and lick
when kick it hay
asked why malade”
– I used found sticks to make sounds upon my upturned bicycle: tinkle- clattering on spinning spokes, and beating the taut tyre like a drum.
– I carried the bicycle over my shoulder, and continued to drum upon its various surfaces; then (without the bicycle) climbed a many-branched small tree and squawked like a bird, before putting my face behind a large metal mask on one of the public sculptures in the flower bed.
– I carried around a large armful of dead leaves from the compressed pile formed earlier, and eventually handed them over to Conor. He passed the bundle to Jagoda. I collected a second pile and moved towards Jagoda. She and I stood face to face, looking into each other’s eyes, resembling a pair at a wedding ritual – each holding our armfuls of leaves. Others gathered around us.
She, I, and the others moved off and dumped the leaves behind a tree before re-emerging through the lush greenery of the beautiful garden.
We now had one hour left. At this point we all joined together and formed a “Follow-my-leader” line moving ritualistically towards the part of the gardens known as The Amphitheatre. At this place an arc of wide raised steps forms a small grassy amphitheatre. For half an hour we improvised together, beginning with one or two people in the centre and gradually involving more participants from those who initially gathered on the tiered seating area.
Finally we moved indoors to a small, comfortable room and created a vocal soundscape for the final half hour.
I worked with a Polish proverb. Polish proverb is: “Speech is silver, silence is gold.” And its meaning is: although speech is quite good, sometimes is better to keep silent.
I was in a white mask. I had a silver hat on my head, black gloves on my hands and a gold cape. I prepared a table and a chair. I put some small stones on the table. I sat down on the chair at the table and I wrapped these stones in a silver foil. I threw these wrapped stones on a ground, I left them on the table or I gave them to someone who was standing at my table. Sometimes I added more stones and turned to wrapping. Sometimes I dropped down all the stones: both wrapped and unwrapped, on the ground. I repeated all these activities many times. After about four hours I went to other performers and I interacted with them.
Ann Mc Kay Poems
Ann observed Cumulator 6, and penned the below poems in response to her observations
His sentient feet impress the ground –
Ecstatic and forthright as buttercups –
Feeling their way like ducklings
As yet oblivious of life’s red lessons – Where’s the party? Quack! Quack!
His feet find clouds and touch them
for proof like cuckoo spit.
His feet rouse skulking dickie birds and despots.
His feet draw piddle and widdle
for fun from laughing dogs.
The beat of his feet pulls
strums and flourishes from wandering minstrels.
And his leafy tale prances.
Ann Mc Kay
she bursts through green willow curtains –
she’s singing in the rain!
She stadium struts and gilders –
she’s happy again.
Behold and lo! and nanny-nanny-no!
The willow tree – all poise no noise – is
busy with photosynthesis
and – holding the tragic pose –
Willow weeping! Woman laughing!
O weeping willow! O laughing woman!
The show goes on.
Ann Mc Kay
07.07.16 12pm – 7pm
McCormick’s Point, Groomsport, Bangor, Co. Down.
This location is managed by The National Trust.
Curated by Rainer Pagel.
Artists: Siobhan Mullen Wolfe, Keike Twisslemann, Christoff Gillen, Brian Patterson, James King, Colm Clarke, Rainer Pagel. Supported by: Beatrice Didier, Brussels
With profound thanks to Slavka Sverakova, for her extensive overview of Cumulator 7. Please access here – https://slavkasverakova.wordpress.com/2016/07/ CUMULATOR 7 -0n 7th July 2016 at The Point, Groomsport, NI, UK
The location was stunning. Small grass and craggy rock islets enclosed a small bay like the perimeter of a lagoon. Wet muddy sand separated the islets from the shore when the tide was out, as it was for our first five hours! Then the sea came in with a rush.
- With pink pavement chalk drew lines upon the natural fissures of several large rocks, and also ornamented two of the rocks with found, man-made, rusted metal objects. Placed on each rock one or two small toy cars.
- Responded to bird noises and distant barking with woofs and tweets.
- Rainer was sitting at a table, carefully painting seven stones in gold leaf.
- In slow motion ritually and ceremoniously carried, one at a time, small cars towards him and placed the cars nearby on a patch of sand. Found a few tiny flakes of gold leaf amongst the seaweed. Returned some to Rainer and held others to the air, letting them fly away in the sunlight.
- Read aloud extracts from a poem by Geoffrey Hill, “To Lucien Richard: On Suffering” written in stanzas of seven lines. Repeating appropriate phrases e.g. “The fine machinery of instinctual natures is well adjusted to the environment.” “Perfect your chagrin-charged resignation, mute expressive glare”, “which of you is the angel? And which angel? I did not think there were angels.”
- “The sea light was visionary, as it sometimes is to susceptible people.”
- Approached Siobhan seated on rocks by a bucket of coal, which she had partially emptied. She was now using a potato peeler to methodically scrape individual lumps. She gave a small lump to the writer which he chalked white and returned. He gave her a small flake of gold leaf, which had fluttered from Rainer’s table.
- Recited to her, several times: “perfect your chagrin-charged resignation, mute expressive glare”.
- Wearing an orange tarpaulin like a cloak, walked in a wide circle on a large patch of sand surrounded by rocks, leaving a trail behind. Beginning at the perimeter, gradually moved inwards making slightly smaller circles.
- Engaged with Keike, she with blue pigment on hands, then hands to her face. She was dressed in a swimming costume with underwear on top, and short stockings on her legs. Told her a mysterious story in gibberish.
- Walked around the vast muddy stretch of sand between the islet and the shore, enveloped in the orange tarpaulin. Bare feet sunk above the ankles, making squelchy slurp sounds and leaving behind temporary foot holes. Sat on a rock and improvised musical sounds with a recorder.
- Back among rocks on the islet played the recorder to a rock which I had earlier chalked and ornamented with a toy car and a found rusted metal square thing.
- Laid out some cars on dry sand. Two rows of fifteen. Had intended more but the tide came in.
- Together with the other artists, collaborating in co-operation, mutually aiding bodies and bags, crossed the torrent of water between one islet and the next one, from which it was possible to clamber along stepping stones to the shore.
- Back on the shore, recited in gibberish and extracted words from the flow of phonemes; wrote these on stones laid on the sand. Thus. “My lie vast she suss keep it the beast fish tan oh da ticket vast tomato”.
- Later having written them on the inside lid of a small suitcase (used for carrying the toy cars mentioned above), repeated the words in a variety of rhythmical arrangements* accompanied by Colm banging two large nails together, and Brian on Cellotape Base: we were like a skiffle group from the sixties.
*Numerous rearrangements of the words are possible e.g.
vast fish tan
ticket beast tomato
oh-da lie my she suss
keep it ticket tan
oh-da tomato vast
the tan my lie
fish keep tomato ticket
06.08.16 10am – 6pm. Art Surgery, Buncrana. Co. Donegal.
Curated by Caroline Murphy
Artists: Keike Twisslemann, Caroline Murphy, Charo Lanao- Madden, Donna Mc Feely, Ann Mc Kay, Jennifer Hanley, James King, Brian Patterson. Supported by Beatrice Didier in Brussels.
The Art Surgery is a former doctor’s house and surgery. The actions took place inside the building in rooms of varying size, and along a corridor; outside the front of the building in a concrete yard; and for the final two hours at an adjacent beach.
In the front yard, I spoke spontaneously in gibberish, allowing syllables, phonemes, letters and mainly nonsense-words to flow in a jumbled assortment – punctuated with high pitched and guttural deep-throated calls. When an identifiable syllable or series of syllables was articulated, I chalked these on the ground, until the yard was covered in writing. With black felt tip I copied the writing onto the pages of a Vogue magazine, tore them out and joined the tops of the pages loosely to each other by sewing with thread. (I had brought with me a number of magazines to use because of their association in my mind with doctor’s waiting rooms).
I then walked around holding the threaded bundle suspended by a long piece of thread, occasionally attempting to float it in the air but unhelped by the absence of any breeze. Finally, I recited sets of syllables from the pages in a chanting rhythm.
After six hours we transferred to the beach, travelling there in a ritualised procession.
At the beach, I placed a long log on top of my head and slowly walked across sea weed covered rocks towards a large rock at the centre of the area. Ann slightly supported the weight of the log with the end of a long stick. The log was about six feet in length. I stood the log upright close against a large rock, and placing some smaller rocks against its base, managed to have it remain upright, unsupported. I then placed my trilby hat upon it; and stood alongside, still and erect.
This felt significant; like standing beside a friend; an essential partner. As though I had lost a twin brother at birth and needed a companion.
I stood gazing across the sea, my wooden friend by my side, and voiced a long and loud open mouthed call which segued into a just perceptible resemblance to Amazing Grace: the author of which hymn, John Newton, was shipwrecked off Buncrana in the nineteenth century.
Finally, I continued to sing the Amazing Grace improvisation into the bowels of a small cavern underneath the wall of huge rocks piled up to defend the shoreline at the top of the beach.
- I was One fornenst Seven when it all began. I was One Logician when I was one
- We was Two fornenst Six when Miss Polly had a Dolly who was sick, sick, sick, and she phoned for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick. I was One Child when we was Two
- We was Three fornenst Five when sshh sshh sshh went my hair. I was One Observer when we was Three
- We was Four fornenst Four when the climbing began. I was One Joker when we was Four
- We was Five fornenst Three when the cigarettes came. I was One Old Woman when we was Five
- We was Six fornenst Two when first at the Beach. I was One Fool, One Joker and One Child when we was Six
- We was Seven fornenst One when last at the Beach. I was One Observer when we was Seven
- We was Eight fornenst None when it all ended. I was….
08.09.16 12pm – 9pm. Pollen Studios, Queen Street, Belfast
Artists: Marita Bullmann (Ukraine), Jayne Cherry, Christoff Gillen, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Paul King, Zara Lyness, Sara Riseborough, Valerie Whitworth. Supported by Hilary Williams, Dublin.
Zara reading children’s stories gold wedding dressed
Jayne knife chopping, singing
Christoff stringing, gaily dressing, masking, feathering
Sarah gloving bluesy, flexing body
Jagoda bathing, cutting patterns, ballooning, masking
Valerie ritualling Russian dolls, white square cloths
Paul hooding, hatting tall, painting, drawing
James one word reading, sculpting pages, sewn
Marita soloing Ukrainely
Hilary camping, perambulating in support
Bea supporting seeding
Observations of My Own Actions
I read from my book, “Moving Pitches” one letter at a time – focusing upon the on-going flow of vocal sound – and waited for Jayne to guess and say aloud each completed word, before spelling out the next one. As this process developed I became conscious of emphasising rhythms and vocal resonances, rather than making the words intelligible.
I tore out each of the pages after they had been read; sewed them together, and attached them over a large tripod which I had constructed from branches someone had brought, like a tent.
Although the tent was clumsily constructed, the pages being very inexpertly and clumsily sewn together, erecting the tripod was a delicately performed balancing act.
I carried the tripod, now embellished with paper, around on my shoulder.
I read “Moving Pitches”, to particular individuals in the tone and manner of reading a fairy story to a child.
Towards the end of the day I sang from the lower part of the stairwell, whilst listening to Jayne and Valerie’s angelic voices coming from above. I sang with complete freedom, without caring about musicality, tune or harmony.
One of the sections which I word-read from “Moving Pitches” was of a hospital experience. This was replete with medical terminology. The coincidence was that Jayne is a former nurse, and so she could understand, and knew how to pronounce all the big words.
While I was reading the “Boxed In” chapter from Moving Pitches, (in which Damian Coyle walked around with his head inside a box), Valerie produced Russian dolls – each boxed in by the previous one.
Both Jayne and I had knives and sharpening stones.
Christoff and Jagoda had, independently, brought along balloons to use.
Cumulator has nine letters! (Come Understand Mysteries Underneath Latent Adventures Taken Outside Regulations)
Two Excerpts from Reflections from Hilary Williams
So the moment came I choose a site, mainly as it had a seat, in the middle of a small lane junction, made of concrete with a bike stood up nearby a railing, a small triangle of space,
I tend to work with a plan of sorts but instinct and reactions to my own action come into play, so if I get into a tangle I give myself boundaries where I must try to resolve the physical inabilities, so gain or fail I must go through that self-made boundary.
I had wrapped my head in white opaque material so was unable to see, but knew where everything was, I wrapped some black and yellow boundary tape around the seat and around myself, I hoped to move a bit further but got caught by a knot so with it around my shoulders I pushed the force of myself towards the road, I knew it was risky but also knew that it was where I had to go so eventually I could feel the tape stretch , I thought it would snap suddenly and I was literally going to be hurled onto the street, so I lowered myself and when it did go did not land out on the road but somehow it was not the tape that broke but the actual concrete seat which I had shifted a bit off its plinth. So ended my first performance. I think we moved swiftly on so no one could see the damage I had done to the street furniture.
I then got up on a bench and waved the cloth around which with a slight breeze it obliged, I then moved the tape around some tree like structures and also around the audience and then finished by tying myself around with the last end of the tape, so concluded that performance.
I was not sure it was good or bad but when I saw the photos after it pleased me no end, I must have instinctively imitated the sculpture behind by Amish Kapoor, a form with winding shapes spiralling.
Could I do this?
Could I stay in the moment?
Could I connect with other performers?
Could I make it interesting for others to want to interact with me?
Could I bring enough materials?
Could I eat if I needed too?
Could I drink if I needed too?
Could I use the bathroom if I needed to?
Could I stay interested for this length of time?
I have more stamina than I thought.
I have more ability to stay in the moment than I thought.
I am able to connect with others better than I thought.
I found interest in surprising places.
I did not need as many materials as I thought.
I did not need to eat.
I did need to drink.
I didn’t need to use the bathroom.
I visited more of my lives than I thought was possible.
just nine of the questions and nine of the answers
in nine hours
to discover about myself.
The tide, so quickly, turns. The island Surrounded by water Complete Its allure To belong to that island And so, it becomes something else, entirely. Hang Rotate Crush Lean Swing Curl Or have my idea of how I should be (on The Mainland) Powerfully communicated Back Like a shock So then I must walk past quickly Barely able to put my trust in the ground Just Awkwardly aware of the comfort of my discomfort My comfortable awkwardness How I cut-and-paste myself to fill the awkward space So conscious of each breath I can contain myself only when the mirrors are firmly in place At least I can laugh at my confusion At least I can pick up pace in the urgency to rejoin The Mainland To dissolve again in blessed sense of cut-and-paste awkwardness Corners and edges What else can I do, when my travels throw me up against an island such as this? (Archipelago) What do you want me to do? To be Now I’ve invested so much time So much attention Cut-and-paste CutHoned this shape To give up now is to fail Fail Fail What could be worse? (Did you feel me watching?) Did I break? Is something broken? -paste I never dreamt I would be in a place You become the branches that caught the plastic bag The rock that holds the fluttering rope The wind that blows the balloon The squeaking hinge If I weren’t so vulnerable Fractured By the cut-and-paste I would reach out and touch that gloved hand Feel the dust underfoot Slip my fingers under the rope and feel the flesh of your face. You don’t like being watched, do you? You don’t like being watched while you are looking Do you think that, because you use those eyes, you are invisible? There’s something going on Is this meant to be happening? Can I walk through here, is it allowed? It’s like this: The only way I’m prepared to be here, is if I can hold something in my hand Something I own Something I can suck at (Hold my hand) Just being here is dangerous Don’t you understand? I think maybe seeing this makes you happy Spend the day turning it over like a penny in your pocket Tell no one Then carry on Cut and paste It’s not fair I can’t watch without feeling I’m being looked at I’m bigger than this
This is my new alter ego which I came to because of Cumulator.
22.10.16 10am – 8pm, Studio 11, College Street, Belfast
Artists: Marita Bullmann, Beatrice Didier, Anja Plonka (all 3 in Brussels)
Christoff Gillen, Jennifer Hanley, Léann Herlihy, James King, Alastair MacLennan, Kevin McAleer, Brian Patterson
I particularly enjoyed the experience of engaging in actions which I had not anticipated actions which had progression, involved relating to other people, and which I could sustain for a long period of time.
For example, several of the artists were spontaneously combining a variety of noises into an improvised soundscape. In response to this, I slowly tore sheets of A4 paper into strips, listening to the ripping sound and accompanying myself with abstract vocalisations. The torn paper fell into a large canvas laundry basket. I methodically scrumpled up the torn strips within the basket, tearing and mangling them further: rending, mauling, and crumpling. Eventually there was a substantial mass of crushed paper. This I proceeded to tamp down by standing on top, inside the basket, trampling the paper like I had trampled dead leaves to a flattened pile in the June Cumulator at St. Columb’s Park – the same method as used by haystack builders over the centuries. I then pressed in the top edges of the laundry basket, forcing down the sides on top of the squashed bundle, creating a fat disk, one side being the leather base of the basket. This I used as a bodhran, playing a rhythm with the backs of my knuckles.
It was a short step from this to the transformation of the already transformed laundry basket, into an enormous hat.
This experience was consolidated for me a couple of days later, when a friend told me about a Facebook video showing a baby laughing elatedly to the sound of its father tearing paper into strips.
05.11.16 10am – 8pm, Void Gallery, Derry
At the time of the performance Andre Serrano “Torture” exhibition was on display.
Curated by Conor McFeely.
Artists: Marita Bullmann, Colm Clarke, Beatrice Didier, Patricia Doherty Roe, Mads Floor Andersen, Jennifer Hanley, James King, Zara Lyness, Cara Park, Brian Patterson, Caroline Pugh
I framed all around the floor of the gallery with a long line of A4 pages, then wrote a word upon each page. These words came from one of three sources:
(1) I began with word association: linking one word to the next with a pun, meaningful connection, or dissociation e.g. “Torture, one, to, talk, is, cheep, wend, your, whey, and, curds, off, cows, bulls, horns, beep…”
(2) I spoke in gibberish and when an actual recognisable word emerged from my lips I wrote it down.
(3) I deliberately connected one word with the preceding one with a sound connection, or connecting letter i.e. beginning the next word with the last letter of the previous word e.g. “yellow, whatever, river, Rastafarian, never-more, Errigle, glean, Nigel, left-back, kindness…” I tried to include words of which I liked the sound, and exclude words whose meaning I found antipathetic.
– Responding to my reflection in the glass of one of the framed photographs:
Having stripped off upper garments in order to examine my torso in the reflecting glass, I noticed the image of a young boy kneeling down, looking through the door of a room housing a torture victim, hooded and dressed in hessian. The boy’s hands were raised as though in supplication as he squinted through a crevice. Intuitively I stood at a right angle to the photograph, facing in the direction of the boy – a little in front of the victim, and facing the door like him. My reflection seemed to be inside the room. I was the victim’s double. My hands were raised to the sides of my face, as though staring back at the gazing figure.
I stood still, speaking gibberish and creating abstract vocal sounds, representing such thoughts as: “Don’t worry about me”, “Why are you here?”, “Who are you?”, “Go away before someone finds you here”.
There were also several invigorating engagements and encounters with many of the other artists. The venue, too, offered many opportunities; not least of which being the very powerful Andre Serrano exhibition. The space was large and the rooms varied so that there was sense of freedom, challenge and opportunity.
Wednesday 8th March, 2017
Thank you for the opportunity to perform with the variety of people in Cumulator 11 last November. Selfishly, my main memory is of taking the delicate pink thread wound round the columns by the performer with a fringe (I think Bea) (probably Marita Bullmann. JK.) and attaching plastic disposable cups to it, roisining it up with tree sap and playing it with a bow using a broomstick for tension. That moment, as with many moments throughout the day, represented a coming together.
It speaks to me about my ability to see patterns, the human ability to make connections. Performers in corners with their toys. Serious faces holding strength lines pushing pushing driving forward but also static. Colm building, hammering. Cara Park giving birth and splashing sex and colour around the spaces. Candles held by another woman, oh no that was Bea wasn’t it? Siobhan blown with her coat on her head, straining against the wind in the gallery. Taking up space and being tidied away. Trying to meditate, be present, be present, be present.
Thank you Caroline Pugh.
Philip Kavanagh – Reflections
We had time for time, and as such, we had time for the highs and lows of energy at home in it. Such
are the polarities of life, and performance, indiscriminately.
And through time, these polarities deepened and were made plural. In them were found more
nuanced poles and juxtapositions of intensity.
We had peaking lulls, and lulling peaks.
These nuanced poles, the ones that both moved forces and arrested them in stillness were, as far as
I could tell, the moments that both sustained and gently forced open, the ceaseless protraction of
And we had time for time.
Through layers of time we formed layers of meaning, and through layers of meaning forces
And intensities changed, and meaning fleeted. And truths that seemed so concrete and energetic
dissipated, and others crept up, under your nose, to gently come over you in moments of exhausted
And in Both, we found poetic cadences higher than the sum of our parts.
All lulled and all peaked all the time, and we had time for time.
10.12.16 9am – 9pm. Echo Echo Dance Studios, Derry
Artists: Oona Doherty, Christoff Gillen, Jennifer Hanley, Léann Herlihy, Philip Kavanagh, Jagoda Kiciak, James King, Shiro Masuyama, Teresa McCormack, Brian Patterson, Rachel Rankin, Hannah Woodside
– Interaction with Teresa Mc Cormack.
I stood on a chair and tugged and tore pinches from cotton wool balls to form tiny tufts of white. I held each one aloft till my fingers slackened, allowing the flake to fall, float and meander to the ground or onto a table tennis bat which Teresa held in anticipation. Teresa patted together all the fallen bits like enlarging snowballs, replicating their origin as cotton wool balls. Throughout my action I repeatedly recited the letters of the phrase, “deja vu”, which in my reciting I mis-spelled as “deja vue”. In my recitation I began with the final letter, “e”, then “d”, (the first letter), etc. Thus: “e, d, e, j, a, v, u,” and repeatedly repeated the list until a satisfactory rhythm emerged. This process was repeated, beginning with each letter in turn. Thus the second list was “u,e,d,e,j,a,v.”, etc.
“Deja vu” had come to mind because of a previous Bbeyond group performance interaction with Teresa when I dropped from a high wall cut-out letters, intercepted by Teresa on their way to the ground.
– Later, I dressed up as Jimbo the clown, and, accompanied by Rover, cumulated onto the walls with Teresa. Rover is a foam rubber dog with no legs. His coat is of blue and green striped material. “He” has a collar and lead, and no precise gender! Jimbo is full-fledged clown complete with red nose and red tartan jacket. On this day he had acquired the language of gibberish. Jimbo had also brought a skein of yellow cord. Jimbo, Rover and Teresa, came to a halt at a convenient place on the walls, on top of a hump-backed bridge over-looking Magazine Street i.e. on top of Magazine Gate. Jimbo tied the length of cord back and forth a couple of times along the ground, across the breadth of the wall, from the base of the railing at one side, to the railing on the other. This was to be his ground-level tightrope. Jimbo opened a small, colourful umbrella, and with care and panache slowly traversed the cord.
Meanwhile Teresa chalked: “Take care, high wire ahead at Butcher’s Gate”; “Is this a plant?”, with an arrow pointing at a tiny shoot growing out of the ancient stonework; and other succinct phrases. Soon after this, Teresa returned to the Echo Echo dance studio.
Outside the Echo Echo building, Jimbo set up the cords again, between opposite railings – making several “tightropes”. The cords weren’t parallel, making a small network. (Teresa had returned to the Echo Echo studios. Rover was tied up nearby.) With umbrella held aloft, he repeated the tightrope act, treading the grounded cords with care, back and forth across the breadth of the wall. After one completed round, Jimbo climbed on top of railings at the Echo Echo side of the pavement and performed a genuine balancing act: walking with slow attention the narrow iron rail, eyes focused one foot ahead at each step. Returning to the grounded cords for another round, Jimbo attempted a double tightrope walk. He straddled two lines walking along both at the same time, legs spread apart. Unfortunately, the lines were diverging, so as he moved forward his legs became spread further apart. Soon he was stuck! When he tried to inch slowly forward, his legs were spread to their very limit. Jimbo stood immobile in indecisive stillness.
The presence of spectators honed his concentration. Should he reverse backwards? Or move onto one or other of the lines? Perhaps the image of his dilemma was as interesting as the “tightrope-walking” itself. He let his body decide. As he stood there, legs spread, umbrella in his right hand, his balance slightly shifted to the left. He went with this and, moving his right foot across, stood with both feet on the left hand line. Then, with meditative care and balance, he slowly approached the railing to which the cord’s end was attached.
Now what? Where? Thoughts tumbled around his brain as his body remained motionless. He attentively observed the knotted cord, observing its whorls and convolutions and instinctively reached to untie it. Then executing a skilful about turn on the cord he proceeded to retrace his meticulous footsteps. In the process he wound up the cord into a loose ball and carried it behind him (like a bundle of memories).
As he moved along Jimbo was eradicating all evidence of his route. Nothing remained to indicate that the journey had ever happened.
Later, in the studio, Jimbo played with the notion of juggling. He simply engaged playfully with a number of plastic jugs! He threw them about, kicked them around and randomly tossed them in the air. Finally, he used the jugs to percussively create a cacophonous variety of sounds.
Jimbo gone, I returned to being myself and honed the blade of a Swiss army knife in a prolonged, sustained rhythm; sharpened a stack of pencils, and in the process arbitrarily patterned some white paper sheets on the floor with wood flakes and powdered graphite scrapings.
I then laid an irregularly chequered pattern of A4 sheets of paper on the black floor; placed a sharpened pencil on each one; articulated a spontaneous stream of gibberish, and wrote on different squares of paper recognisable syllables (giblets) emerging from the flow of vocal sounds. I then repeatedly read aloud the giblets in random order. My next action was to pick up and shuffle the pages. Half of these I gave to Rachel Rankin. We read aloud alternate giblets, before simultaneously reading together from our separate lists.
To complete the process, I merged the gibberish syllables into phrases and rearranged them into an abstract poem:
“talked to Edavan
money lie toe mess sigh
he can run free die defy
roll hiss come to dough
revel in Monday
I stow a lemon
why my toe don’t
much long to take
deep in the fie
sin in the fin
tea tie if I sigh”.
Finally, I reprised a performance from thirty years ago: in the guise of a great guru artist, I had given titles to objects in the environment to turn them into works of art. Consequently, I wrote labels beside various items in the studio. e.g. “Red Pair”, beside two fire extinguishers.
“Bolted” on a wooden board fitted to cover a widow, attached with bolts at each corner.
The final action for all of us, was to sit in a line, one behind the other, creating a spontaneous unco-ordinated, sustained, arhythmical symphony of percussive sounds – mainly with chopsticks (provided by Teresa) on the metal of the chair in front . This was a marvellous end to the day, and the Cumulator! Particularly when Steve Batts enthusiastically joined in, in support from the perimeter of the studio.
I write about 12th Cumulator now – Jagoda
For me it was kind a rundown on all works in this all-year series of performances.
During 12th Cumulator I worked all time in the main room in Echo Echo Dance Theatre.
I had black clothes. On my head was a small lamp with various lights: small white, big white, three small red…
At the beginning I prepared a lot paper cutouts. I sat at a white table and was making it for three hours. I used white sheets and I cut stars similar to snowflakes. I cut white “tree”. I cleaned the table and all pieces I put nearby window.
About 2 p.m. Christoff and me had a lunch. At this same table we sat opposite each other. We prepared plate full of slices eggs. We feeded each other.
After the meal I gummed my cutouts to glass in windows. So we had our Xmas tree, twelve stars and title of our event: Cumulator.
After action with Christoff I had different interactions with other participants.
Description of my action is short, although this action was quite long. Cutting and gumming took me about four hours. This time was quite “normal” time: I was concentrated on cutting. But the next time was full of surprising, freedom, trying old/new, playing, breathing, observing, looking for… this was great.
I had quite good time.
Thank you James, thank you all my friends.
Now I have to take care about my health. I hope I can realise my plan to write about a time in performance.
Approaching the final quarter, I sit. Mentally exhausted; a plastic bag full of milk strapped to my breast; a galvanised bucket spreads my legs. A group enters the space; a baby cradled in the arms of a woman. Now seated to my left, both conscious of the milk glands at our breast. Shoulders tall, she gives her swollen breast to the mouth of the child. Mirroring, I raise a needle to my breast; puncture it. We both drain the contents – hers into the mouth of a child, mine into the mouth of a bucket.
CONCEPTS ELEMENTS AND SUMMARY
The basic concept was that each month, from January to December, an additional person would perform for an additional hour.
Originally there was the idea that as the months progressed, some one person from the previous month would also join the next month; and in this way emphasise the continuity of the process. However, this was not a workable plan – some people would have been asked to do two consecutive months instead of one, which was too much to expect. would have been a big ask. As it was, fourteen people did more than one month, including the writer who did ten (and attended the other two). Hence, his presence sustained the link.
SIMULTANEITY was a key feature of the Cumulator. Participants could be in different locations, or even in different countries, provided that they were performing within the same time frame.
Throughout the Cumulator, collaboration between participants was a
an integral principle.
Arising out of the original concept, the essential thing was that the performances happened at a certain time, for a particular duration, and that the appropriate number of participants were there. If even one person failed to turn up for even one of the months, the project would have been lost. So administration became more important than anything else, including content and quality of performance. My puritanical school teacher DNA emerged into the foreground and stood us in good stead, when it came to attendance and punctuality! My advice to any future Cumulator managers, wishing to spare their nerves, would be to have several subs on standby throughout, right up to the last minute. Or have a more flexible concept and structure.
The previous paragraph notwithstanding, there were many experiences of quality throughout the year. Quality of performance being, in my definition: an action which expresses commitment, intention to risk – with unknown outcome; attention to detail, self-belief, respect for others, kindness to others, and oneself; awareness of the context and location; perceptual awareness, awareness of sensations, feelings, red herrings, and a willingness to follow these, and other hunches and intuitions, with flexibility and spontaneity. A performance in which process surpasses product. One that is personal with universal connections, as an authentic action invariably is. An action which shows responsiveness to emotions arising from associations and memories or emotions which arise for real in the performance moment – expressed as art, given form, a poetic response.
TIME and DURATION
As the months progressed, the durational nature of the performances became the significant feature. Time itself became increasingly important. The simplest action became en-formed by time.
There were various aspects: the functional wherein the abundance of time enabled processes to develop; the psychological, whereby one’s actions and behaviours were viewed through a magnified consciousness; and the philosophical, when Time became an element of the performance – independent of space, and colour, shape, sound, feeling, imagination, movement – and perhaps too, independent of perception.
MONTHLY COMPARISONS and THEMES
Were there any useful points of comparison – connections, contrast – between the different months?
Each month was different from the rest in some or all of the following ways: numbers of participants and who they were, and their experience; number and composition of audience; duration; location; season of the year; weather conditions (none particularly unfavourable). Thus, or hence, comparisons are difficult, even if not odious.
No themes were stipulated, although several emerged.
- In January the performance in Wedderburn Park, Belfast, had a ritualistic form. The theme was an integration and blessing towards the twelve forthcoming months.
- The theme of the February performance was decided by the name of the venue and some of its contents. The venue was a large shop or store called the Yellow Yard. One of the proprietors had amassed a collection of type writers. James used random typewriting for part of his performance. Caroline engaged with yellow ducks.
- There was no specific theme in March at the Queen Street Gallery. The essential essence of the performance was the harmony and synchronicity between the three performers.
- In April two artists from Ireland joined two in Berlin for four hours. They performed on, and adjacent to, a bridge spanning a canal which had previously divided East and West Berlin. This significant fact informed much of their work.
- May took place in the grounds of Northumbria University, Newcastle. There was no single, unifying theme. Each of the artists made significant use of a very limited number of objects.
- June, in the grounds of St. Columb’s Park House, Derry. No theme. Just a very stimulating environment. One artist, Jagoda Kiciak, provided a central focus.
- July, at Ballymacormick’s Point, Bangor. (One performance artist in Brussels.) The stunning location and the vagaries of nature provided inspiration. Early plans had investigated the significance of the number seven, and the possibility of performing at Cave Hill, Belfast.
- August, at The Art Surgery, Buncrana. A theme was provided by the history of the building: former doctors’ residence and surgery. (Initial plans, which were dropped because of drop-outs, centred upon the theme of women only in the performance.)
- September, at Pollen Studios, Belfast, and one performance artist in the Ukraine. No particular theme, although the presence in the group of two marvellous singers had an influence, significantly in the closing stages. And Jagoda’s bath had a strong presence which several of the group responded to.
- October. Seven artists in Studio 11, Belfast. Three in Brussels. No theme. The date, 22nd was chosen to connect with the name of the studio: the 11th of the month not being suitable.
- November. Void Gallery, Derry. An Andres Serrano exhibition, “Torture”, was on at the time, which offered a powerful back-cloth to the performances.
- December. Echo Echo Dance Studios, Derry, with one artist performing solo and via Skype from Belfast. There was no specific theme, except the awareness that this was the final Cumulator of the project: its Culmination!
Curators, Repeaters, Hosts and Locations
Curators, Repeaters, Hosts and Photographers.
Locations: 1. Wedderburn Park, Belfast; 2. Yellow Yard, Derry; 3. Queen Street Studios, Belfast; 4. Gorlitzer Park, Berlin; 5. Northumbria University, Newcastle; 6. St. Columb’s Park, Derry; 7. MacCormack’s Point, Bangor; 8. Art Surgery, Buncrana; 9. Pollen Studios, Belfast; 10. Studio 11, Belfast; 11. Void Gallery, Derry; 12. Echo Echo Dance Studio, Derry.
Curators: Denys Blacker, Northumbria University; Mads Floor Andersen and Wahshi Kuhi, Gorlitzer Park; Rainer Pagel, MacCormack’s Point; Caroline Murphy, Art Surgery; James King/Brian Patterson, the rest.
REPEATERS – those artists who participated in more than one Cumulator.
James King 10
Jagoda Kiciak 4
Christoff Gillen 6
Brian Patterson 5
Zara Lyness 2
Siobhan Mullen 2
Beatrice Didier 4
Colm Clarke 3
Mads Floor Andersen 2
Marita Bullmann 4
Leann Herlihy 2
Patricia Doherty Roe 2
Keike Twisslemann 2
Jennifer Hanley 4
Caroline Murphy 2
February – Yellow Yard: Ben, Katie, Mark and Jenni;
March – Queen Street Studios: Brendan O’Neill;
May – Northumbria University, Flare Festival: Denys Blacker;
June – St. Columb’s Park House: Helen Henderson;
August – Art Surgery, Buncrana: Patricia Doherty Roe;
September – Pollen Studios Belfast: Jayne Cherry;
October – Studio 11 Belfast: Tony Haynes;
November – Void Gallery, Derry: Maloisa Boyle;
December – Echo Echo Dance Studio: Derry: Steve Batts.
Jordan Hutchings, Keike Twissleman, Brian Patterson, James King.
A special thanks to Jordan Hutchings for his dedication and artistry, and to Caroline Murphy and Ann McKay for their perspicacious and rigorous proof-reading, editing and word processing.
From advice letters to participants
Performing in the Cumulator you are part of a group even if some of the members of that group are performing in different locations. There might be no theme, but there is an expectation that the performative thoughts and actions of artists in the same location will eventually interlace with each other.
Each performer is participating in a larger whole, the overall Cumulator. Each month group is a part of the whole, contributing to an evolving sequence. Some people will be in more than one month.
Each month there is a core location, in which the participants will, hopefully, connect, exchange and interrelate, with hope and optimism. Those not in the core might work together as a parallel group or groups, in a different location, or country! Possibly there will also be separate – but not isolated – individuals.
All will share in the energy of the others and give energy to that month’s group, and to the entire Cumulator.
A fragment joins into a whole, which is a fragment of a greater – like snowflakes.
Upon request, I wrote some tips for September Cumulators. So I thought I would write some thoughts for Octocumulars.
- Thank you all very much indeed for participating. I hope you will find the experience enjoyable and fulfilling.
- Bring some water to drink and snacks, sweets and nibbles, as you wish. There will be no planned meal breaks.
- Ten hours can be a long time. To prepare, keep up some regular exercise. Meditate or commune with nature (although a cliché, there is value in this).
- Ten hours is not all that long. Time will be your friend: accompanying you in your detailed observation of things perceived; your thoughts and feelings; and the sources of these. Time will enable actions to develop organically and foster your appreciation of the spontaneity inherent in slowness.
- Be prepared to engage with others. Be open to others participating with you even if at first you feel a resistance within yourself – the outcome of the engagement is unknown. Also, if someone says “no”, believe them, and know that they mean it. Stay with your own process when that is right for you. Be sensitive. Do not make unwanted physical contact.
- Pace yourself. If you feel tired, rest. But rest in the zone of performance. Rest in presence. Have a present rest.
- Sound can fill an entire space. Be aware.
- Bring materials and objects for your use. Preferably, but not exclusively, for sharing.
- The space is a good sized, comfortable, studio space, about 45 feet by 30 feet.
- Please be there for 9.30am. We will begin with introductory warm-ups.
- You will be among friends.
- The Brussels group may have particular arrangements between themselves.
- Be prepared, and be prepared to let go of your preparations.
- This will be a supremely significant performance and totally unimportant.
- Ten is a great word to play with. Do play. Attend. Ten men went to mow ten green tentacle bottles tenderly and tentatively with intention.
- The number ten will possibly have significance for those who know about such things e.g. Pythagoreans revered it.
- This Cumulator was held on the 22nd of the month because it is a multiple of 11. 11 is a significant number for Tony Hayes, the studio host, but the 11th wasn’t available
- Seriously looking forward to being with you in person on Saturday 22nd in Belfast and in spirit in Brussels.
- This is not a contract.
Excerpts from November Letter
Eleven hours is a long time, so expect to pace yourself, and be prepared for fluctuating energy levels in the group. If you are in a resting mode, still remain in the performance zone, aware of your shape, location and continued relationship with the group. Only suffer if you want to. There is no requirement to do so!
I imagine that most people will begin with individual actions before engaging with others. Although you might wish to work on your own throughout. If engaging with others, be open to unanticipated processes, rewards and developments. Welcome the opportunity to experiment and discover.
Time will be your friend, revealing details in the simplest actions which you have never previously experienced.
The Serrano exhibition might provide you with much stimulus, but don’t feel obliged to respond to it. The gallery, as many people have commented, is a marvellous space. enjoy!
Looking forward to seeing, working and playing with you. Very appreciatively cumulative. James
Does our work need justification? I don’t know if it does or not, but I do believe that the expression of our spontaneous and creative processes might positively influence spectators, influence our own behaviour in the real world, and cumulate from microcosm to macrocosm.
Principles and Cumulator Advice
Actions may take various forms: movement, voice, meditative processes, use of materials, dressing or adorning the self, making sound, creating with objects, making marks, or using text. Some artists engage with a simple, sustainable task.
The basic form is the evolving process of an additional person for each new month.
Participants participate simultaneously but not necessarily in the same location.
Initially people begin with their own processes and eventually develop collaborations, if acceptable to both parties. “No” means “no”. If someone does not wish to collaborate with you, respect that. Do not intrude. The person might possibly be available for interaction at a later time.
Nevertheless, I would encourage participants to be prepared to engage with others, and be open to others’ involvement with them. Don’t anticipate – or attempt to determine, or predict, or attempt to control the development of – an encounter. Be sensitive to and with each other.
Respond to intuition. Say yes to hunches. Be attentive to detail. Observe. Notice your impulse to say no to an impulse and then turn that impulse around. Nurture spontaneity. Let go of ego. Let go of the previous moment. Drop your conditioned responses.
Be real. Be natural. Express yourself. Be how you are in the world. Let each moment of the performance be a cameo of how you are in life. No acting. But you might get into costume or dress a certain way to facilitate the expression of an aspect of yourself: a role; a channel of consciousness.
Stay with an action, let time be your friend. In a durational performance time contains your actions under a microscope. Be aware of your thoughts, memories, associations, sensations: accept them with a smile. Be aware of others, and the environment. Breathe.
Move, let body inspire you. Let body lead you. Listen. Play with objects and materials, explore, risk. Be unpredictable. Do the obvious. Let a series of minor shifts transform your actions. Invent a task. Sustain this task. Let it become all important. Or let it go. Drop it and pick it up again later. Participate 100 %. If resting, stay in the zone of performance, even if totally still. Notice how you are sculpturally in the space.
Avoid mechanical actions. If using voice or speech, be more aware of sound than content. Hear your phonemes. Avoid asking questions. Turn questions into statements.
Do not use voice to control. Switch off the control button. Less is more. Keep it simple.
Do one thing at a time. Bring your body to where your head is. If in doubt embrace the doubt. Turn yourself inside out.
Prepare to be surprised. Bring something to play with. Or make with. Or write upon. Or read aloud. Something surprising, like the shipping news. Or read Shakespeare as though for the first time. Repeat a phrase over and over. Read one letter at a time. Repeat a word repeatedly. Read one word at a time, slowly and deliberately. Read at super speed. The performance is not for entertainment. Avoid trying to entertain. This separates you from the other. Be interested and fascinated in what you are doing, without inviting attention. Excoriate the look-at-me mode” (unless you are making a performance of that). You are performing in the presence of spectators. They are witnessing. You are not performing FOR them. You, nevertheless might be responding to them. And be supported by their presence. Let them enjoy, be engaged. Allow them to interpret what they experience for themselves. Don’t be rude. Be aware of the possible effects of your actions.
If a spectator talks to you, listen, and answer with honesty, precision and respect. Answer after they have spoken, not in your head, while they are speaking. Revere the humanity of the other. Once upon a time they were a child. Be a child in your performance, at play.