Monday, 30 May 2011


A textual response to Causality, curated by Kiki Taira, at ]performance s p a c e[, London. Artists included Bean, Duncan Ward, Poppy Jackson, Kiki Taira and Victoria Gray.
View other performance texts related to these artists HERE.


































Thursday, 10 February 2011

BEAN @ O U I #2: BLEAK ACTIONS: O U I Performance, York, by Victoria Gray

This review of Beans performance at O U I #2: BLEAK ACTIONS can be read online at ARTREVIEW at the following link:


Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Kiki Taira
Sideshow 2010: British Art Show 7: Nottingham
One Finch...Performance Weekender: curated by Jenna Finch
by Victoria Gray

Kiki Taira is an artist whose multidisciplinary approach brings together sculpture and performance. Her performance works explore and exploit the simplest of interactions between objects and bodies, reframing them as transformative sculptural experiences.

For 'One Finch Performance Weekender', curated by Jenna Finch, part of Sideshow 2010, British Art Show 7, Kiki Taira presented an action, very much contingent on the work not-working for it to work at all. Not-working becomes a positive, rather than a negative proposition in this performance and so cunningly Taira has the most solid of disclaimers, she means to meet with failure, re-framing it as a means to success.


Taira begins with a strip light, similar to one you might find in any office, the most artificial of artificial lights. Placing it carefully on the ground she casually unravels an extension cable that is then plugged into a nearby electricity socket. The ease with which she ‘begins’ to perform these actions makes us question if and when she ‘begins’ at all. We are deliberately left wondering if an action has a start or end point, whether it is one framed as performance or; why and how the simple action of plugging into a power socket, in ‘performance’ retains so much interest. This difference, between performing and not-performing is deliberately ironed out in Taira’s performance so that wilfully we become engaged and impressed by the simple pleasure of watching somebody just ‘do something.’

Taira continues to ‘do something’ with the strip light yet things do not flow seamlessly. As the light refuses to come on we are caught in a dilemma, a situation, a true situation for performance whereby the body and the objects are in real dialogue with each other. Both objects are live, the body and the light by virtue of its electrical current. In both cases this is their power and their potential demise, both have an unknown life of their own. Taira consciously mediates between the two, wrestling with their unconscious attempts to wrangle her plan.

Taira has not put in place a safety net and whilst we are simultaneously confused and intrigued by the lights negation to perform its only function, this negation becomes its and Taira’s art. Taira continues to try and find the source of the problem, pressing on the contacts that touch each end of the strip light until occasionally they blink, promisingly, yet with the fickleness of a candle in a threatening breeze. Determined to solve the problem, unapologetically Taira walks backwards and forwards between the faulty plug socket and the fickle light. Her ease reassures us that this is ok, and I am reminded that if the performer cares, we care. And so, we care for Taira as she grapples with cables and contacts, plugs and switches, not because we feel sorry for her, she can clearly handle this herself. We care because she performs each operation of trial and error on the faulty electrics with such intention that this is, for me, the main event.

After what feels like a (pleasurable) eternity of light flickering on and off, Taira is afforded some sympathy; and so for 5 minutes we, the pensive spectator, have the pleasure of looking or rather seeing. No constancy but now ‘working’, Taira appears and disappears under the light and non-light as she holds the lamp, defiantly, above her head. Her arms are stretched into a wide V forming a triangle, the strongest of shapes as she holds each end, widening her shoulders, pressing her upper body strength. We begin to understand that the light on/light off scenario is not just contingent upon the electrical current obliging from its power source, but is also related to Taira as the physical power source that presses the contact pins to the electrode. Each time her triangle of strength weakens, the required pressure to make this contact diminishes and so too does the light. In the darkness Taira is reminded of her own body’s limits and proceeds to press on through, generating more and more instances of light.

If the sight of her constitutes her presence then she is with us only half of the time. This is the allure, fleeting and ephemeral, we catch a glimpse of Taira’s slight frame and long, long hair, each time she appears. I had not mentioned but prior she had removed her simple t-shirt to reveal a torso wearing only a bra. This removal is no big deal, it is not a strip, lightly executed as casually as the unravelling of the power cable. As a woman, to ‘do’ an action like this, and to ‘do’ it in such a way that it sidesteps any potentially loaded cultural connotations, those that the dressing and undressing of the female form is frustratingly shackled to, is important.

We see her, again, slight frame, long, long hair as she continues to raise the strip light above her head, casting light down her graceful back and throwing shadow onto the wall. In the event of light, two Taira’s emerge from the one before, both her concrete being and her doppelganger shadow morph each time the light is held in a different position. Like a contortionist she moves the light behind her back, rotating her shoulders in such a way that we see the affect move through her whole torso to accommodate this flexion. The distortion feels necessary, the body has entered the visual art work and is working itself out, has found parity between the body and object in a body/object, action/sculpture.

The ubiquitous strip light re-emerges here as an object of intrigue, making the familiar strange. Reigniting interest in such common place objects and materials is Taira’s art, not content upon re-presenting them as aesthetically pleasing images, Taira performs the objects, revealing their inherent choreography of materiality. Through performance, Taira reveals to us the weight, shape, texture and temperature of an object by quite simply testing its limits. As a result her performances are tactile, contingent, open-ended, reciprocal and enquiring object activities. The term ‘spontaneous action’ is used by Taira to define her methodology and approach to performance. Defiantly against the production of gratifying, self conscious images, Taira negates this quick pay off for riskier, process lead moments of ‘becoming’. She is braver than I am.

Unplugging the light she proceeds to unite the black cable with its portable shell, winding it again and again, pursuing, even as it stubbornly sticks. Taira’s perseverance is noted, she will not be beat, and since it is not about finding that elusive performance image, these knots make us free from those pressures, of the ‘good’ work and the ‘bad’ work, of the fear of making a mistake. All the while an audience member has been holding a small black bag that Taira produced at the beginning of her performance. The contents of this black bag are a mystery to us all and remain so, even after the performance has finished. When asked, Taira takes the bag away from me and explains that only the person holding it had the opportunity to look inside and since he did not, it would remain there. I imagine, by the weight of the bag and the feel, the spectator might have been able to make an educated guess as to what was inside the bag, but if he did he did not say. This non-showing, mirrors the concept of seeing and not-seeing that figures so prominently in this work, each time the light gives us a glimpse of Taira and then takes it away.

Showing (off)/Non-Showing(off)

This, most subtle of relationships between objects in her performances, figure in much of the work I have seen Taira perform before. Taira has commented that bringing objects into the performance space, even if they are not used is an important part of the work, as opposed to being redundant these objects are charged and so, regardless of the actuality of incorporating them into the action, they of course are implicated, just by their very presence. This is the most simple of Taira’s techniques, the courage to present objects in their most simple, naked form, not to ‘use’ them but to allow them to just ‘be’.

Taira ‘finishes’ or rather, blends back in to being a spectator again by dressing, transforming herself again by adding a t-shirt and black jumper to her small frame. She stands near me and takes a moment, signalling a move from one phase into another. Taking a pint glass of Guinness she takes a sip and smiles at me; it is as if the whole thing had never happened.


Out of Time: Group Action and Temporary Autonomous Zone, almost
By Victoria Gray and Nathan Walker: O U I Performance

“If History IS “Time,” as it claims to be, then the uprising is a moment that springs up and out of Time, violates the “law” of History. If the state IS History, as it claims to be, then the insurrection is the forbidden moment, an unforgivable denial of the dialectic – shimmying up the pole and out of the smokehole, a shaman’s maneuver carried out at an “impossible angle” to the universe.” (Hakim Bey 1985: 98)

ArtEvict is happening in a once launderette, now squat building, just off Mare St in Hackney, East London. Over the past year ArtEvict has established itself, modestly, as an important platform for emerging contemporary performance practices most notably in the area of action art. It employs an open and democratic approach to curation, which negates an institutionalized curatorial approach; one often considered as a hierarchical practice that is predicated on the ‘good work’, ‘bad work’ school of thought. ArtEvict maintain this principle, however fluctuating and therefore risky it might be. This is the first of principles that set ArtEvict outside of the mainstream, the second is that ArtEvict happens in empty disused buildings, forgotten spaces, usually squats, and is organized with the collaboration and consent of residents. Using spaces such as this, those that in a social context are in direct opposition to state control are also, in an artistic context in direct opposition to the institutionalized control exercised by theatres and galleries. This negation from establishment happens in the event of it taking place in these particular contexts, and permits ArtEvict to perform its own autonomy and simultaneously perform its political stance. This idea mirrors Hakim Bey's concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) of a space which “does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it.” (Bey 1985: 99). As such, for ArtEvict to happen it must keep moving, between abandoned spaces, between artists, between practices and between times.

What follows is an account of the event of a group action that took place on 18th September, 2010. ‘Group Action Performance’, when put into a historical context seems, deliberately to escape any concretely recorded chronology and so in this instance, and at this moment, we simply identify collectives that have significantly informed theories of group action performance. From this lineage, which is not linear, we borrow and carry the torch of the theoretical principles practiced by Black Market International and Bbeyond; highlighting them as foundational examples and influential to our own practicing of this mode of performance.

The performances begin early in the evening with solo actions whereby Colm Clarke has spilt milk, Victoria Gray has burnt cotton, Velvet Swine has danced naked, Nathalie Bikoro has covered her face in clay and Jamie Lewis Hadley has bitch slapped and been bitch slapped, After a break, Kiki Taira initiates a 'group action' signaling its beginnings by marching continuously against a wall. The room changes and the space between performing and not performing, spectating and not-just-spectating blurs. The audience can no longer attempt any form of passivity, they are implicated just by ‘being’ there , they are amongst and inside the group action. Moments of grunge and feet standing on the wall, deathly march and ghostly shouts. The phantom actions of new shamans attempting to destabilise spectacle. Squatting there in the pillars inbetween, surrounded by windows, sleepy people and plants, mattresses, sleeping bags and dogs the air clogs the air ducts, fabric is unrolled and shakes like a specter curtain in a gale. Duncan Ward’s soiled face, black creases and talcum powder white as the apparition sheet. Medical bags as muzzles, faces barking ghost, dust rising, smokeholes for eyes. The actions transform the room, the room transforms the action, I didn’t think people felt like this anymore, this is what a group action feels like: stormy sea, unwashed cabin crew, disappearance.

Like Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone these young artists are playing with time, history, and the law. The group action acts on a network of relations whereby participants negotiate the performance of individual actions within the politics of a group situation. The events operate within an open structure, a methodology to explore modes of synchronization, communication and participation between performers and audiences and bodies and objects, relations that resonate aesthetically and politically. There are a variety of instances whereby the group experienced a synchronization of actions accessed via physical, verbal and psychic dimensions, folding and weaving to form a rhizomatic network. There is positivity in difference, felt in the rub of synchronic and discordant actions, sensed in the relationship between informed intuition and arbitrary coincidence and witnessed in the visual rhyme between bodies, objects and architecture. Synchronicity occurs as a moment of communication that takes place in the space between things.

A network of relations was exercised in the performance, but on a wider scale, this group action fused together a network of relations between key artist groups working in action art in the UK. Present were Colm Clarke of Bbeyond (Belfast), Bean & Jamie Lewis Hadley of ]Performance Space[ (London), Victoria Gray and Nathan Walker of O U I Performance (York) and ArtEvict (London).

“Like festivals, uprisings cannot happen every day...But such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life...shifts and integrations have occurred--a difference is made.” (Bey 1985: 98) Bey notes that revolution, whilst seemingly attaining to a new permanence, rarely achieves permanent change. Instead, we favor these impermanent uprisings, temporary experiences that surface a new network of performance art in the U.K, practicing a contemporary experience of this art in this new decade.

Victoria Gray & Nathan Walker 2011


Bey, H (1985, 1991) T. A. Z. : The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Autonomedia, New York.

Further Reading:

Bey, H. 'T. A. Z. : The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism''. Autonomedia. HTML Edition. Accessed online at

LaChance, M '15 Principles of Black Market International' Accessed online at

Sunday, 12 December 2010

why, how, charcoal and torch..

there seems to be a centralized version of The Truth..

or The Fact..

lurking there, among people's minds, and expressed through such "why?s as the one thrown at you, in your train journey..

i'm thinking, this train you were ridding is an achievement of an advanced species..all the technology employed to make it real is a distillation of "know How"..

and yet passengers, strangers, all belonging to the [intelligent] species called humanity which created that train, along with rockets and cpus.. is massively addicted and restrained (no pun intended) to this universal Why, shining like a gilded plate offered to you to place your smudged head on..

behaviour, behaviour, behaviour..

what one must/must not do is echoed and reproduced unquestioned, and all other "variations" imply absurdity (i.e. handsome young man with charcoal on his face in a public transport apparatus..)

so this it it then:

public ignorance and brainwashing are serving our performing personae through confusion and (apparent)absurdity..

what a lovely vehicle your charcoaled face an olympic torch it sustains and transports the action from the albert place to manchester and surbiton..

to trains, trainstations, spaceships and disease-curing supermachines,

made by a kind still chained to its universal Why's..

we elude, flourish and survive in the tension (pun intended) our non-comforfmity evokes, as it is thrown in raw, honest, smack-bang against the predictable questions and predictable answers of humans boxed in trains and suits..

i will sleep better tonight,
knowing there is black marks of action written on your chest..


Sunday, 5 December 2010

(tension/intervention/restraint): a reflection in words

"What happened to you?"

"I rubbed charcoal on my face."


"Because it was there."

Within 40 minutes of completing my component of the group action (t/i/r) last Saturday, I had boarded a train at Euston heading to Manchester. I did not have a chance to clean the charcoal from my face - my action continued.

The interaction above took place on the train with a stranger and has stayed with me as thought.

It is not the over-arching, overly-repeated 'why?' that hangs with me, but rather my personal response - 'because it was there'. I rubbed the charcoal on my face because that is what occurred in that moment. There were other elements to my/our action(s) that were undoubtedly preconceived to a certain degree - but not the charcoal.

I was profoundly affected by the interactions I had with the other individuals present that evening, we all just let the moment unfold. There seemed to be no 'why?', 'How?' Definitely, but no 'why?'

How did I rub the charcoal on my face? This is the question that now sits in my mind and on my tongue.

Through rubbing my face against Kiki's face, wringing my hands with the charcoal powder from the floor and with intent - what intent? The intent to have a charcoal blackened face. How I rubbed the charcoal on my face is important to me. Is it important to you?

In focusing on How a moment is rather than Why seems to be what is happening in these group events. This focusing on How appears to have an organic continuation, bleeding out of the specified time and place, out into the wider social sphere, through individuals 'post' actions.

How was your body being? How, are you, now?

I am sitting at my office desk, at work in Surbiton - I have the image I am performing(?) written beneath my shirt, on my chest in black marker pen.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

was ist nicht neues?

complex answers are needed in complex times.

A rhetoric that is understandable, yes, not esoteric, yes, but one that can deal with the issues we face.

times are hard, yes, making ends meet is hard, yes, but really what power do you think we, as artists, have?

As a friend of mine recently stated:

Art Heals, but can it empty a bedpan? Why should the arts survive the cuts?

Performing in public spheres, non consensually, will and should provoke a wide range of responses. I was punched in the back in Leeds doing a live art piece by Claire Blundell-Jones in which couples conveened and kissed for ten minutes then dispersed, this attack was homophobic, but, at least they are showing some sort of interest. What will you sacrifice? Where will you draw the line? In our work we bleed, we get hurt, we abuse our own bodies, we endure it and it is fascinating.



Is it really all about slavework? Not to me, part of it is about slavework, yes, but without that I wouldn't be able to create the liberating aspects of my daily routine. I wouldnt be able to produce and present work and events. Still the system sucks, but what can we do about it? Critique it, intervene in ways that create commotion and commentary (a bit like being arrested, beatedm abused), find a nuanced way to saw at the paradigm we operate under. Not a simple answer though. Never a simple answer. An answer with entendre. An answer with variable intended meanings.

recessions often purge the art world.
a good flush and some quality control.

Yes funding is dubiously splashed around to organisations, many of which seem reighteous and community led. But there isn't enough money for every one to get some, so there has to be some sort of criteria. "I make art, give me money!" doesn't quite hold up. IMPACT and QUALITY.

We can utilise the DIY culture prevelant in the live art scene.
We can make interventions and actions that question what it all means.
we can MAKE.

Monday, 25 October 2010

was neues..

lovely dinner with three lovely people, 
all expressing their concerns about our “outdoor” attempts, the bus route
mentioning abuse, swearing, beatings and arrests..
a phrase stuck in mind: “with all this terror act, you’ll sure get arrested”..
which refreshed an ongoing questioning of this city’s (country’s?) priorities to its citizens:
is it all about slavework/collect/consume/shit and die? 

are we ruled by a system that has repeatedly failed to understand the difference between artistic expression and terrorism? 

is funding and resources allocated/distributed through a market-based network that views art as an ornamental function in its society, favoring “community” over individualism/originality, treating thus the artists as product of behaviour farms? 

aphoristic all that sounds, and easily answered..
easy answers are needed in hard times..

Friday, 22 October 2010

in response to our group action, Millenium Bridge, Thursday.

(Outside) of Actions

Wrapping tube lines in awkward movement

Tying tyre flesh in yellow

Feet thinking fast and past you,

Toes poise in anticipated pausing, but push on.

My threaded thoughts tangled in your cellophane wind.

M168 sings like winged feet through lips embroided to the throat of your chant,

I follow the encased, suit,


to St Pauls and back

You are patient. And its raw in a cheap because its wholesome way.

I wrestle my tire on a grated triangle, fucking my knees, it loosens and thrusts.

The swinging is aggressive and exhausting, I swing in time to you,

Your blinded and barefooted. Limbs in circles. Everything is open and bleeding.

I see you as/on/the/we/are triangle,

submissive and medative

I lift my circle high and watching lines of genetics map out from yours, achingly open

Arms tire

so astride now I watch the spit being pulled out by the city

And I try and balance, us.

You move towards me but not to me

You struggle towards me and to me

and I'm thinking about how my skin felt fighting this city

Dragging possessions and possessing circles,


teetering. Taken then falling.

It was mine and you left it,

It seems so silly now.

I go and see a film night about home.





I wonder when this ends.

you offer to carry us but I'm passive aggressive

but it is mine.

I think about swapping sides but I don’t want it between us.

Pounding pavements rubber bruising swelling into love, nestled on hips.

You are my stilettos and that is not for sale, not now.

He said, delivering letters they said, carrying on your shoulder causes stress.

I don't think its stress just pushing on knotted thoughts and releasing,

What it is is solace in motion.

A hood

is a home,

but wedged between us its cushioned and interrupted,


Solace in Motion

‘The categorical impulse of modernity is: in order to be continuously active as progressive beings man should overcome all the conditions where his movement is reduced, where he has come to a halt, where he lost his freedom and where he is pitifully fixed.’ (Sloterdijk, P: 2009)

On marking yourself gently [the tattoo and it’s under/line], you put solace in motion; and even after the ink had dried there was still a bleeding of edges. Of edges, of lines, of crossing lines by making and breaking lines; with blood lines we see a flow. To cut is not to stop, is not a negative, causes a positive, an opening causes a space.

You show us the yellow thread, threaded into the performance as another line, made as it is unmade, unravelled and uncoiled. Unravelling features here through threads and body’s and still more perhaps but implicitly so. A line is made when the yellow thread is pulled taught, when put under stress. The line almost connects us to you through space but only almost. I see the haunt lines and have seen a brief history of this thread, have even been caught up in this thread with you in our action. I know that this thread is well travelled, has been to Berlin and back, has already performed us and you in our group action and so the thread has its own movement memory which makes the connection even tighter.

And then the tyre that you are not too tired to hold onto for a little longer and a little longer and we know it might burn as you tire. The tyre was not turning, was not the agent of the body’s motion, the body performed the action, the traction, the tyre stays still as the body rotates on it and you have powered the reverse. And on it stood the body majestic and ethereal as you turn slowly, very slowly, very occasionally holding the wall as the tyre swerves under.

Watching you carry the tyre and the stick, after the performance [as/is another performance] both of us lost and complaining of the cold; finally find solace in a watering hole [aptly named ‘The Hermits Cave’]. We talk about moving and staying still and the edges of the performance and your life really do bleed here; it tells me that you are not trying to bluff us when you cut and tire. Fundamentally you are asking [us] whether to stay or go, to move or to stop and so this jarring is necessary, healing not harming. But be careful [and I am full of care here] because stopping is not standing still just as stillness is still motion. Movement is still within stillness, and one would not exist without the other.

The last image of your performance, well after the performance was over is of you pulling your tyre and your stick out of the boot of a car. You look portable, holding all of your objects like a shell, looking to find the bus route [home]. You are both vulnerable and strong, lost going into an invisible battle with your tyre as shield and your stick as sword. How can we console an image like this, a vehicle without its body? Only tyres left tired and burning, still not knowing what to carry what to hold onto yet still moving.

Victoria Gray, 2010

Monday, 18 October 2010

new lens recipe..opinions?

documentation of live performance?

limbs, sound, sweat, eye contact, interaction and, perhaps above all:

inner motive

how do you preserve all this in film?

what's the point of "canning" a fresh show?

the aging valid reasons of "reference" and "portfolio" seem no longer enough to film performance..

i am full on different approaches to the concept. multiple takes, non-linearity, flexing of rhythm and physical gesture..

capturing performance on video not as re-enactment but as re-action to the action..

in a different form,yes, but one that just like live action, it is validated through its uniqueness..

traditional, "archiving" footage will still go on along this attempt..


Monday, 4 October 2010


Hello everybody. I hope this works (I've not blogged before). But hopefully I am showing you a drawing here... If so, then here is a drawing I made last night from the group performance at the ArtEvict event in the laundry x

Sunday, 3 October 2010

snippets of thoughts...

on Victoria Gray and ArtEvict 18th October 2010:

cotton wool wadding

cotton wool wadding

cotton wool wadding

Gray's actions and materials are simple, precise and although almost clinical retain an overriding sense of femininity.

The stuffing was suffocating and silencing, its controlled and meditated manor quietly screaming.

Gray's removal of her dress was clinical and neutral in form; its precision and moments of stillness generating meaning. Holding the dress over her head it became both a flag and a triumphant statement, but also a shield and obscurer of identity. The darkness and weight of the dress furthered this sombre sense, starkly contrasting the blandness of tights and body. The tights grew out of this invisibility and became strong and flexible. When stretching and opening the tights physically, Gray let us into the work, artist and concepts of the performance. As with Gray's persona when performing this was gentle yet incredibly poignant. The containing and consumption that preceded this, again secretive, inevitably let the audience in. Stuffing and chewing the tights from a distance, in isolation, yet choosing to poo them out her mouth when surrounded in close proximity by the audience.

Gary’s final action reflected what was to become a poignant evening of action for the emerging artists of the UK performance scene. Gray choose to use the remnants of Colm Clarks performance, becoming the third line of milky residue. This attentiveness towards others work set the president for the subsequent group action which was felt by all involved to be a turning point in collaboration and unity between up and coming artists and organisations.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

anyone's gone down the route yet?

hey V - yeah I have been riding it just thinking, i would like to try and get a few of us on it together at some point.

tension/pressure:comment to "a little bit about me, Kiki"

i dint know the stuff about the knots ..

it feels very powerful to use such a concept to release pressure from "society" whether that is inner (self) or external..

Tension, Intervention and Restraint from Heather Jones on Vimeo.

Friday, 1 October 2010

collaboration..excitement in working together, yet many times things never materialize..

..esp in London, Machine City 2012, where mundane tasks of daily living wear out initiatives..

let's do it..


What does it mean to present work of ones own body in a moving city scape that will not allow such work?

Anyone interested in this question please join me for ArtEvict's ArtBus on the 76 route through our London