Taking part in VRRRR Festival 2017

VRRRR Festival 2017

I am one of the eleven artists chosen to take part in the VRRRR Festival 2017. The festival takes place in Toulon in the south of France.

Non stop drawing

For three days the Musée d’art de Toulon will have non stop drawing, music and performance. I’m on my way down there now and really looking forward to taking part. This year is special because it is going to be a retrospective of all of the previous artists. It is also going to be the last edition of the festival for a while, because they are going to renovate the musée d’art de Toulon.

I don’t really know what I am going to do but that is part of the festival !

Berlin – Toulon

Last week I went to Berlin for the first time in my life (late developer). It was an excellent holiday and really good preparation for this festival. Berlin was like a huge open air art school. There is definitely a spirit of experimentation. Art is everywhere, and some of it is so beautiful. Overall it doesn’t matter because there is a lot of space.

I didn’t have any particular ideas when I went there. Travelling is always so fascinating. You are so open and such great things happen.

Image Nation

So here I am travelling again. And for the next three days I’ll be travelling in my imagination. Image Nation.

Exhibiting in Toulon

I will post to my website everyday during the festival and for more informal, off the cuff stuff, you can see my instagram feed or my facebook page.

All the pieces I create during the festival will be exhibited from the 10th until 25th November 2017 in the musée d’art de Toulon. All the pieces will be for sale in Toulon and there are lots of other fabulous artists who will be there so if you are around, come on over. Its free entry, open to all.

Poetry

I managed to learn (more or less) Song of Childhood by Peter Handke last weekend in Berlin. I will do my best to learn a poem for this weekend but I’m sure you’ll all be very understanding if I don’t manage to do it…

Dream State

Now I am going to rest and hopefully enter into a dream state…

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Yeats

Poetry

Here I am reciting a poem by Yeats, on the the beach. The pauses are because I am reciting by heart. I am doing this in response to a creative challenge on the excellent Lateral Action blog… There is a podcast called 21st Century Creative. It is a first series and I really recommend it to anyone who is interested in creativity. You can go back and listen to all the podcasts. The last episode will be next week but there will be another season very soon. There are excellent interviews with many different creative people.

This episode the challenge was to learn a poem by heart. I do this on a regular basis for my own songs but this has reminded me that I wanted to do it for myself. In this way I can explore poetry from the inside. I also help my children learn poetry for their school homework and they love to do it.

I have developed techniques for memorization which include repetition, analysis of structures, rhyming schemes and visualization. It is always impressive to see how quickly my sons learn poems. They are very good at it but they are also good at learning in advance. In fact one of the main parts of memorizing is sleeping. This allows the text to really live inside of you.

I should really redo the poem and maybe I will this evening!

I will post the results here as I learn some of my favourite poems. There is a huge difference when we read poems and when we recite them.

The line “I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore” is pure music to the ear and in the mouth. It becomes clear when we recite it.

My version: filling myself up with music

As I learnt the poem I repeated it like a mantra, letting the music of the words, the images, fill me up. I recited the poem at the end of the day on the beach to my wife. It was a little difficult. I possibly should have learnt a poem in French but my wife speaks pretty good English.

Incidentally it is very interesting to listen to Yeats’ own reading of the poem : it is not at all the way I hear the music of the poem. You can hear his version at the bottom of this post. Yeats was not as fond of this poem as others are. For him it was a work of his youth…

Earlier in the day as I walked through the streets, reciting the poem, it began to resound more and more with me.

As I swam out in the sea in the evening, I imagined the “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;” as I stood in the city surrounded with people (“While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core”) I tried to hear the silence and the calm that is at the heart of this poem. As the evening set (“There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings.”) I was looking at the golden cloud in the sky’s blue grey azure, trying to transpose this memory of Yeats’ childhood holidays onto this noisy mediterranean resort.

This wish to go, to leave where we are (“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,”) fills up the whole poem. I began to hear the poem from inside me.

Reciting this poem on the beach was fun as well, you can hear all the seaside noises…

Here is my recital for what it’s worth.

This will surely lead to some lyrics or words of my own… A personal version of the Lake Isle of Innisfree.

This is also why it is a great idea to learn poems: you then transpose those ideas onto your own material… And Yeats is no slouch when it comes to beautiful words…

Keep creating.

 

Willian Butler Yeats

Here is Yeats’ version:

Looking back on performance

4. tempsLooking back on performance, I just spent the last two days going back over work that I’ve done and especially concentrating on performance pieces. A lot of the work that I have done has been in performance art.

I do not put much about it on this site because I feel that “you really have to be there”.

However over the next few weeks I will try to document as much as I can and share different parts of this thing that I do with you.

It has all been sparked off by some students of mine asking  how do you do performance art? So I am trying to show them ways to do “performance art”.

The short answer? There is no way to do performance art. It is really just a way of doing things, a gesture and sometimes needing the public there as a witness. It is mediocrity and anti technique. And it is the opposite. It is anything and/ but it escapes definition.

The only things that seem to be constant are space and time. You could add in gravity and human beings as well. But I’m sure there are ways of doing performance art with animals (cf. Laurie Anderson’s Music for Dogs) and maybe, performance art only exists in this multiverse.

Or maybe all of us are doing performances in this reality.Here is me performing as an artist in my workspace.

Macdara Smith in his workspace. Photo: Thomas Sappe
Macdara Smith in his workspace. Photo: Thomas Sappe

Performance art can be incredibly rewarding both to the people who witness it and those who do it. It can also be a horrible failure because it promises so much. And fails to deliver. That risk is what is at the heart of performance art and its promise of freedom. In dark times! Ha. Ha. Ha.

These are the aspects of performance that are so fascinating. The freedom of it. This approach informs a lot of my other work. And my other work helps when I do performance as well.

So, now you know how to do it- do performance art today!