Folkestone-based performance art organisation, ]performance s p a c e[ has been busy this summer celebrating its tenth anniversary. Committed to the support and development of work frequently termed as ‘challenging’ or ‘difficult’, PSX – A Decade of Performance Art in the UK culminates in London August 12-21, following three months of intensive residencies, screenings, podcasts and workshops in Folkestone and online.
Explicit, unapologetic and poetic, these images act as portals to various collaborations – Benjamin Sebastian
Born out of the Occupy movement, ]performance s p a c e[ has facilitated a wide range of radical work, surviving and furthering their reach in a climate which all too often favours populism over risk. On August 12, Deptford’s VSSL Studio, based at the artist-run infrastructure Enclave, open the PSX photography exhibition, launching the London programme of ]performance s p a c e[‘s anniversary celebrations.
Says curator, artist and ]performance s p a c e [ director Benjamin Sebastian: “We have chosen ten epochal photographs from our archive that typify the energy, attitude and ethos of the artists ]ps[ works with. Explicit, unapologetic and poetic, these images act as portals to various collaborations, geographies and moments from our past while projecting that energy into our future(s).”
Visitors can view documentation of Jade Montserrat, Keijuan Thomas, Poppy Jackson, Ron Athey, Benjamin Sebastian, Bean, Nicholas Tee, Hancock and kelly, Kris Kanavan & Elizabeth Short (performing as Nick Kilby) and Nina Arsenault. Photography comes courtesy of Andrea Abbatangelo, Marco Beradi, Anna Martinou, Alethea Raban, Paul Samuel White and Manuel Vason, a frequent collaborator who is also based in Folkestone. Vason’s ongoing work with performance artists has been published and exhibited for over two decades.
The exhibition will be activated with live performances from Adriana Disman and Kelvin Atmadibrata on Thursday, August 12 and will run for one week, during to a close on August 19.
As a fitting finale for PSX – A Decade of Performance Art in the UK, Bermondsey’s Ugly Duck hosts a 10-hour durational performance on Saturday, August 21 (11 am-9 pm). Set in a cavernous Victorian warehouse in Tanner Street with plenty of room for distancing, audiences can expect newly commissioned performances from 9 noted artists – spanning the full 10 hours. This event is free and once booked, it’s possible to drop in, drop out or stay for the entire ten hours.
The line-up features Anne Bean, whose landmark appearances and collaborations are renowned. Performing at William Burroughs Final Academy, collaborating with the Kipper Kids and co-founding the Bow Gamelan Ensemble with sculptor Richard Wilson are 3 of many career highlights. Her intriguing output has been consistent for five decades. Recent performances include the monthly event Come Hell Or High Water by the Thames foreshore at low tide.
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha presents Tongue Matter at different times throughout the day. Performing with sound and water, this work has been created around experiences of ‘Glossolalia’ or speaking in tongues. Nigerian-born and based in the UK, Vivian was recently appointed a prestigious co-directorship of London’s Live Art Development Agency.
Veteran artist Alastair MacLennan terms his performances ‘actuations’, incorporating drawing, installation and found objects. Visiting London from Belfast, especially for PSX, is a rare opportunity to catch this performance art luminary in person.
Martin O’Brien appears fresh from a recent sell-out season at the ICA. Living with Cystic Fibrosis, his striking performances touch on themes of mortality, frequently incorporating intense endurance.
Other artists include Rubiane Maia, originally from Brazil, who works across performance, video, visual art, installation and text; Elvira Santamaría-Torres, who has performed at festivals, art centres and public spaces for over two decades and Poppy Jackson a ]performance s p a c e[ associate artist. Poppy’s East London roof-sitting action made international headlines in 2015 and in 2021, she continues her unflinching exploration of the female body as an autonomous zone.
Joseph Morgan Schofield, artist and ]performance s p a c e [ assistant director is to invoke some ‘queer ritual action’, adding sensory elements and focusing on the non-binary body. To complete the line-up, associate artist Selina Bonelli makes absorbing use of artefacts, heirlooms and found materials to interrogate oppressive power structures and social realities.
“Performance art is remarkable in its ability to engage an audience. There is no mediation between artist, artwork and viewer; the art process is alive, breathing in front of you, returning your gaze. One is not passively consuming art when viewing performance art, but rather an integral part of that unique artistic moment. The artwork is that particular, reciprocal process of engagement that one is part of.” – Benjamin Sebastian, August 2021
Top Photo: Keijaun Thomas, 2019 by Andrea Abbatangelo
PSX – A Decade of Performance Art in the UK runs from 12-21 August. For more information on the PSX programme, visit www.performancespace.org/PSX- set
The PSX live event on August 21: Book Tickets Here
VSSL Studio, 50 Resolution Way, London SE8 4AL
Ugly Duck, 49 Tanner St. London SE1 3PL