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New Possibilities for Performance

Saturday, 4 December 2021
11am – 1pm

What is at stake in experiencing performance? How is this experience mediated, live and direct in close physical contact or mediated and transmitted via technology and screens? What does it mean to make performance, now in a pandemic and post-pandemic world? Where is performance made and shown, and by whose authorship?

Hosted by artist Harold Offeh, this event will explore what is currently at stake in performance across all live contemporary art forms, reflect on the current climate for making and sharing performance and build collective conversations in response to a series of urgent questions and provocations by guest contributors. Guests include Barak adé Soleil artist and Co-Director of Live Art Development Agency, Joe Moran choreographer and director of Dance Art Foundation, Louise O’Kelly curator and founder of Block Universe, Lucie Mirkova, Head of Artistic Programmes at DanceXchange, and SERAFINE1369 dancer and artist.

The event will start with a series of provocations exploring ‘what is at stake in performance now’. With responses engaging with current concerns within choreography, contemporary art, live art, artistic practice, and beyond. We will explore what is at stake in the live experience, and what a removed viewing through a screen or device may add or take away from the observer. 

The symposium will take place live online, and will include BSL interpretation and closed captions. 

This event is “pay what you can” to allow for flexibility depending on your income, the suggested amount for those with secure income is £7 

Harold Offeh is an artist working in a range of media including performance, video, photography, learning and social arts practice. Offeh is interested in the space created by the inhabiting or embodying of histories. He employs humour as a means to confront the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including Tate Britain and Tate Modern, South London Gallery, Turf Projects, London, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Wysing Art Centre, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, MAC VAL, France, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark and Art Tower Mito.

Barak adé Soleil (he + they) is an artist and Co-director of Live Art Development Agency. Their creative practice draws upon the performativity and labour of the racialised, disabled and queer body; informed by extensive experimentation and rigorous studies in the traditions of the African Diaspora, contemporary techniques in dance and theatre, and postmodernism. Fluidly moving between creating, interpreting and collaborations in theatre, dance and Live Art, Barak has received various acknowledgements including: 2020 & 2017 Art Matters Foundation Award; 2019 Ragdale Foundation Residency Fellowship; 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency Fellowship; and 2016 3Arts Award. Presentations of their performance and conceptual work have occurred at: Hudson Gallery/Refiguring The Future exhibition (2019, NYC); 7a11d International Festival of Performance Art (2018, Toronto); and Gallery 400/Chicago Disability Activism, Art, and Design exhibition (2018, Chicago). Curation of multidisciplinary and performing arts has been produced by: Brooklyn Arts Exchange (NYC), Links Hall (Chicago), Tangled Art Gallery (Toronto), and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis).

Joe Moran is a British-Irish artist and choreographer living in London with a wide-ranging practice incorporating performance, critical writing, drawing, curation and advocacy projects. His work centres the body and embodied presence as a site of complex subjectivities and political unrest, with queering frequently deployed as its principal critical strategy. His work is informed by a background in improvisation and experimentation, and a fascination with the problems and opportunities of formal choreographic composition and notions of expanded choreography. Recent commissions, performances and exhibitions include Materiality Will Be Rethought (2020) a performance commission for Whitechapel Gallery reimagined as a 30min film work, Arrangement (Sadler’s Wells, 2019), Nottingham Contemporary (NottDance, 2019). Joe is Artistic Director of Dance Art Foundation through which his performance, organising and curatorial work is produced. This work includes organising and advocacy that centre independent artists and collective action for systemic change.

Louise O’Kelly is an independent curator. In 2015 she founded Block Universe, London’s leading international performance art festival and commissioning body, with a mission to create a platform and support structure for a new generation of interdisciplinary artists working with performance. In 2019, Block Universe began to present work internationally. Louise regularly speaks about performance issues at panel discussions, lectures and public talks, at the invitation of institutions and universities throughout the UK. She was nominated for the ICI’s Independent Vision Curatorial Award and curated the 2019 edition of the Robert Institute of Art Evening of Performances. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths (London) and was a Vision Forum Research Member at Linkopings Universitet (SW) from 2014–16. She currently sits on the steering group for the UK-wide Live Art Sector Review being undertaken in partnership with Arts Council England.

Lucie Mirkova, is the Head of Artistic Programmes at DanceXchange. She has over 20 years of experience working in dance in a variety of roles including as a performer, teacher, choreographer, producer, manager and programmer/curator. She joined the DanceXchange team in 2013 after finishing her Masters in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck College in London. In 2006 she gained an MA in choreography from Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She has worked for a number of dance organisations including DOT504 Dance Company, the first regularly funded contemporary dance company in the Czech Republic and Retina Dance Company, Nottingham. As Head of Artistic Programmes at DanceXchange she leads on the strategy planning, development and delivery of all artistic programmes and leads artistically the Birmingham International Dance Festival.

SERAFINE1369 was previously working under the name Last Yearz Interesting Negro (2015-2020) and is the artist, dancer and writer Jamila Johnson-Small. SERAFINE1369 works with dancing as a philosophical undertaking, a political project with ethical psycho-spiritual ramifications for being-in-the-world; dancing as intimate technology. Their work is informed by research into movement and dance as a tool for divination, decoding messages from an oracular body – on personal/structural/symptomatic/somatic/psychic levels – to be processed through the medium of choreography. Usually based in London they were Torchlight Artist at Siobhan Davies Studios from 2019 – 2021, won the Arts Foundation Futures Award for Visual Art in 2019 and are the In-House Artist in Residence at Gropius Bau, Berlin for 2021. Their installation ‘from darkness into darkness’ is currently showing for Art Now at Tate Britain.