I Need To Be Ready
I Need To Be Ready, Tasks 1-5
Images from I need to be ready Tasks 1-5, performed 27/03/2020, Burren National Park, Co Clare
'I Need To Be Ready' is a series of performance art actions.
On Friday 27 March 2020 I made a series of performance art actions in the Burren National Park. By this time most of my upcoming projects had been cancelled/postponed of due to the Covid19 Pandemic.
I decided to make a performance in response to this situation, and in it, combine some of the themes I had been developing into one performance. One particular concept I had been developing was the idea of a performance based around being Ready.
I need to be ready- A durational physical performance art work. The artist compiles a list of actions to be carried out. These actions are designed to help someone be as prepared, as ready as possible for whatever might come along, whether it be unexpected, or anticipated and inevitable; good news, bad news, personal loss, cataclysmic environmental change, personal injury, illness, political upheaval, war. Who knows what life might have in store? The actions are to be carried out one after the other, and repeated until the artist can no longer carry them out.
I decided to seek out an isolated space to complete some tasks based around strength training. The isolated space would allow the work to be compliant with the social isolation guidelines that were in force at the time.
I completed the tasks wearing a nice dress I owned but had never previously worn, as the overturning of normality with covid 19 meant that waiting for an occasion to wear a garment seemed faintly ridiculous. It was time to create my own occasion.
It was important to me that the tasks be carried out in a magnificent, awe-inspiring environment where the actions would appear suitably insignificant in the greater scheme of things.
Co-coincidentally that evening, new restrictions were announced re the 2k-travel limitation. So this was the last day I could have made this work.
The work is based around strength training tasks as I use strength training as a tool to both maintain strength and to manage anxiety.
Training Task 1: Sledgehammer blows. To maintain strength and manage anxiety, using my sledgehammer and tyre.
Training Task 2: Sledgehammer 10/2's.This is an exercise traditionally done using a mace, but a long handled sledgehammer works just as well. Great for upper body strength and shoulder mobility.
Training Task 3: Weighted squats wearing my weights vest. It has removable weights so as to customize its weight but for this task I kept it full, at 20kg. A human moves differently when weighed down.
Training Task 4: Travelling Lunges, which are good for building lower body strength.
Training Task 5: Bear Crawling which is excellent for building core strength and neural coordination.
These strength/art actions were performed at the base of Mullaghmore, Burren, Co Clare, so as to meet the Covid 19 pandemic social isolation guidelines. 27/3/20. Film credits Paul Corey
I Need To Be Ready, Tasks 6-10
Images from I need to be ready Tasks 6-10, performed 30/04/2020, Our Lady's Hospital, Co Clare
I made the 2nd series of 5 tasks, 6-10, based loosely around the idea of flight or flight. The tasks were made on the site of Our Lady's Hospital, a now disused psychiatric hospital in Ennis, Co Clare. The hospital looms large and dominates visually, rendering my presence and actions (nearly) insignificant. Making the work felt like a fight to establish presence.
Task 6: Here I can be seen standing on the front steps of the hospital making a speech, to an imaginary crowd. I regard public speaking as a very important skill. Who knows when you might be called upon to address a group of people? I’m wearing a ‘good’ dress as there’s no point waiting for an event to wear it. I’ve created my own occasion.
Task 7: Pacing back and forth. Pacing back and forwards might not be regarded as a particularly important skill but it’s a way to kill time when waiting for something to happen. If society breaks down and we no longer have mobile phones to occupy us all day, pacing back and forth could possibly become a highly prized activity.
Task 8: Running. Here I can be seen running as fast as I can past the hospital. I regard running fast as a very important skill. Who knows when you might need to get away fast from a situation, or chase after the last vehicle leaving a condemned area?
Task 9: Push Ups. Push ups are important. Who knows when you might need the upper body strength that push ups will give you to push open the jammed bulkhead of a sinking sea vessel, or to clear a path through a hysterical mob? Or the obvious one; to show your physical prowess in a push up competition?
Task 10: Waiting. I regard waiting as a very important skill. Here I am fighting the urge to take flight, ha ha, as waiting goes against my natural instincts, which are to NOT wait, as I am a hugely impatient person who hates queuing or waiting for anything. Waiting could prove to be a very relevant skill if one was to find oneself incarcerated for any length of time, or if you live in a future post apocalyptic world where the wifi comes on once a week.
I Need To Be Ready, Tasks 11-15
Image stills from I Need To Be Ready, Tasks 11-15
I made the 3rd series of 5 tasks, 11-15, These 5 tasks were made in Ballybeg woods, Co Clare, 19/6/2020. This series is based about social isolation in the midst of people. It was important to find another space to perform these actions where the surroundings loomed large and dominated visually, causing a battle for me to establish a presence in the space.
Here in task 11, I am trying to blend into the background. Blending in is something I stopped trying to do years ago, but I regard it as an important skill in the possible event of social breakdown when free thinkers might be seen as dangerous.
Task 12: Hugging. Hugging is now the new luxury. I predict hugging, which can lower your risk of anxiety, depression and illness could become a highly prized commodity in our new socially distanced world. This rock appeared unresponsive to my hug but maybe I succeeded in igniting some oxytocin in its cold damp depths.
Task 13: Shouting. Being able to shout loudly is a very useful skill, and my lungs have never failed me yet. It’s an obviously useful skill if in danger and the need to communicate loudly arises. It’s also very cathartic and good for waking up the adrenal glands. Go ahead and try It today.
Task 14: Hanging. Being able to hang off a bar or branch by your hands is a very useful skill, if you should find yourself in such a situation. It’s worth a go just to find out what thoughts go through your head as you dangle. Also this action is an homage to the artist Bas Jan Ader, who liked to test gravity and his own resilience with art actions.
Task 15: Hiding. Hiding is a very useful skill, especially in this dystopian world where we can be tracked through satellite and phone signals. In this world where we make ourselves very much visible and available through social media and communication systems, concealing oneself away for a while can be cathartic.
This series of work is ongoing. It will be shown as part of the Friends in Dialogue series at http://www.diekunstschaffenden.at/ausstellungen_vorschau.htm in October 2020