Chop Chop- FIX21 Bienale Catalyst Arts

Thoughts on performance- catalyst arts, as part of FIX21 Biennale

Arrived in Belfast after a long train journey and a run through Dublin trying to find Connolly station and being too embarrassed to ask any one because I couldn’t remember where it was. I ended up arriving at Connolly 5 mins too late for the Belfast train but got the next one, all good. Arrived and wandered about till I found the hotel- like they’ve been taking inspo from Japanese sleeping pods- there was literally just enough room to move around the bed. It was the last room, no 630 of 1-630 rooms, which I liked, on the top floor, the very last room at the very end of the corridor.

So I got myself organised and went and bought some food, having of course not eaten yet that day. I was too nervous to eat much even though I know exactly what will go down, its funny actually the minds capacity to propogate stress and fear even when you know perfectly well you are not going to encounter anything dangerous. Thoughts of ‘ will this be shit? Will people think this is shit? Will I look desperate and a bit pathetic?’

Anyway I walked through the city and found catalyst- there were two directors there, Jen and Manuela. I had bought a briefcase last week in clarehaven horizons shop when I was picking up more stuff for the behind closed doors show, it is an old fashioned briefcase like the one my dad always carried with him when he worked as a credit card salesman. It felt, the briefcase, like it had lived a life also.

I had thought it would be nice to wear a suit and carry a briefcase, which would contain my onions and knife and chopping board. All were jammed into my old briefcase (plus my facepaints and brushes) and off I went.

There being no one there but Jen and Manuela helped settle me and remind me that of course this didn’t matter and it was just a moment in time and would of course pass like any other moment.

I sat in the resource room and painted up my face. I was particularly focused on trying to paint my smiley mouth in a neat black curve but was reminded from the last time that due to the undulations and faintly emerging but none thlese less emerging pouches on weither side of my mouth that this was proving challenging, as due to this my smile would not go on smoothly. I did my best and after 6.30, my start time, was forced to confront a less than perfect smiley smile and continue.

Of the performance I remember the engulfingly strong smell of onions and how tired my right arm became particularly my shoulder, from all the chopping. The table Jen had found for me was perfect, slightly rickety and thus made for pleasing audio reverberations as I chopped. These chopping echoey noises which changed around how much intensity I chopped with made the whole experience much more satisfying and lent another layer to the proceedings I had not anticipated. I stopped after chopping about 10 onions I think, stabbed my knife into the last one and left.

I didn’t cry this time either.

There was a piece of writing done for the event, for each participating artist. They asked some writers attached to Catalyst to do this. See the one written below for my work.

I needed a bit of time away from the house, after the week of relentless building and Mario the dog arriving on Thursday. Removing oneself from the middle of a situation can help with an objective view.

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