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!

Busy busy busy in the bus

Busy busy busy in the bus

In the bus with Zarboth

Touring with Zarboth (Phil Reptil and Etienne Gaillochet) at the moment

Having some very funny times and conversations.

If you want to know or hear some of these conversations it’s best to follow me on https://www.instagram.com/macdarasmith/

(btw I still don’t know why links are not working from my site… you have to actually copy and paste into your browser!!!!)

Driving in the bus, the three of us, the return conversation from the Smöll Festivöll, was around the idea of the uniformisation of cultural projects and the difficulty to be original in today’s world, when everybody already knows what they want… Although for most of that conversation the drummer was sound asleep…

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Routine

We play at the weekends and then during the week we do our day jobs, spend time with our family and friends. This is a great experience for all of us. We’re doing this as independent artists. We’re meeting great people from all over France. It’s all in the middle now so I’ll come back and talk about it more.

We meet the organisers, different teams that help set up the concerts, different rooms, different publics, other musicians.

It is a great time to play music.

Not only that but we get to see different parts of France. Wines, local products, different ways of doing things, different expressions and words.

We get better

And of course, the music is getting better and better- and I’m saying that as objectively as I can! But the songs are now like really comfortable clothes that you put on. Even though some people might find Zarboth’s music strange, it is really becoming very fluid…

Other news

11:11 the project with Mathieu Autin and Gabriel Geurin, we’ll soon bring out an EP- watch this space but we hope to get it to you soon so you’ll be able to make it into your summer hit!!!

Watch this space!

go to http://zarboth.com/ to know about dates…

and as always if you want to listen to or buy the album:

http://zarboth.bandcamp.com/album/theres-no-devils-at-all-its-just-the-system

Have a good week.

All That Was Left Was A Broken Bike

All That Was Left Was A Broken Bicycle
For He is Caring

All That Was Left Was A Broken Bike

Yesterday evening we were all sitting down to dinner in our apartment. My family and I heard a skid and a bang. We live on a busy Parisian road and there are often accidents and mishaps. Most of the time its nothing serious. Often it ends with a bit of a shouting match. Then both injured parties make their seperate ways, snarling at one another over their shoulders.

Not a great day.

I had not been having a great day. I had woken up in a bad mood. I was thinking of all the things I should be doing, as an artist, as an “interesting person”. I had spent the afternoon wandering around trying to get something for one of my children. I did not really have any “me” time. I had woken up late as well and then had to bring one child to one birthday party and another one here and so on and so forth.

I was having one of those days where you compare yourself with everyone and everything around you and you come up short. It is an ugly emotion and you measure it up in bitterness. It made no sense to me. The day before I had hoped to go out and see a friend launch his album but that plan had fallen by the wayside. And here on Saturday I could see my evening disappearing as well.

It put me in a bad mood. I asked myself “why bother living in Paris if you can never go out and enjoy the city?”
This may explain why I was in a bad mood…

The Bang

Then there was this bang. I looked out the window, a white car and a bicycle in the middle of the road. A cyclist had been hit by a car. The cyclist was standing so it didn’t look too bad. A young man was helping him. The cyclist himself was a young man. The driver was a young man too. In France, when you have an accident they get out a form that they fill out, each giving their version of the accident. The cyclist was not in a good way. They picked up the bicycle which was now in two pieces. I had not seen the accident. All I could see were three men around the cyclist. One of them seemed to be explaining everything to the cyclist. He had a large mobile phone and he was presumably calling the ambulance.

But, is the car OK?

Meanwhile, the driver of the little white car ran back and forth to his car. He got it off the road and parked it, then he looked at the front of the car, checking for damage where he had hit the cyclist. Everything must have been fine for his car : he could still drive it.

Then all the guys left except the original helpful young man who was with him right from the start. This all happened very quickly. I thought at first that the driver had gone to park the car. He had not. He never returned. None of the pushy young men with their phones returned. After they had left, the ambulance arrived.

Ambulance

Now, the cyclist, who had slumped to the ground, was surrounded by three ambulance men. They cut open his trousers. They put a special head brace around his head. I began to get worried for the poor cyclist. I began to wonder where the car had gone. They put the young cyclist onto a stretcher and pumped up a whole package around him. I imagine this was to get him to the hospital without getting too knocked around.

Good people and little problems

The first young man who had helped him right from the start was now filling out a form on the bonnet of a police car that had arrived. I was upset that I had not taken the licence plate of the car that had hit the cyclist. I began to think about my little problems and here was this cyclist on his way to his friends or who knows where, knocked down by these pushy people who had a such a busy important social life that they could not even wait to make sure that the cyclist that they had hit got proper medical care. I could not believe the erosion of the links between these humans.

Thankfully there was the young helpful man who had witnessed the accident and stayed there. As the seriousness of the situation became clear to him with the grave looks of the ambulance men he too became very upset. I have no idea what they said but I could read a lot of the body language from my window.

The first group, pushy, aggressive body language, worried only about themselves and clearly not the poor cyclist who slumped to the ground after they had left.

Going out on Saturday night

All of this to say, do whatever you like, you never know how so much can change in just one short instant. I can still see the young cyclists head, in a brace, surrounded by an inflatable protective cocoon, as they loaded him into the back of the ambulance. I could imagine him thinking of how he was supposed to go out on Saturday night.

The street was empty again. All that was left was a broken bike.

Other news

So, I was not in a great mood. I was doubting myself but then I was sent some of the latest recordings of Underpressure, the free rock group. Shortly after I received some recording of 11:11, another group I play in. These cheered me up.

Also Zarboth will be announcing dates (as soon as I finish the flyers!!!).

Have a good week and keep on making things.