Performance art in the virtual is a project by artist Helen Kirwan and consists of seven one-off performance art pieces broadcasted live to a global audience every two weeks between early February and mid-May so that audiences from around the world were able to join in and experience Kirwan’s performances in her studio and on location.
A year later two additional performances were added to the project on the occasion of the new video work titled “Grief Work” being premiered during the 59th Venice Biennale.
The innovative approach to the experience of performance art was especially poignant during the global pandemic and the new reality in which we humans found ourselves in.
Kirwan is an Irish-British conceptual artist born in Dublin, Ireland in 1949 and is known for her quiet, meditative performances and moving image and installations on the themes of memory, loss and on journeying as a metaphor for loss. Her most recent works exploring these themes include her trilogy of video work collectively known as Memory Theatre which were each unveiled at the European Cultural Centre during last three editions of the Venice Biennale.
Kirwan’s performances of futile activities are part of her ongoing inquiry into mourning and loss and are a form of marking time. Her work draws on her own experience of mourning the loss of a loved one. ‘These futile activities are the performance of the searching and yearning which some psychologists identify as essential to the bereavement process,’ she explains.
Kirwan’s work is underpinned by her inquiry into the concept of the ‘philosophical fragment’. The German Romantic philosopher Fredrich Schlegel posited a radical definition of this fragment as a dynamic process which aims at fragmentation for its own sake. Intrinsic to Kirwan’s futile reiterations and journeys is the essential incompletion which is itself the mode of fulfillment. The repetition which lies at the heart of Kirwan’s work draws on the Hegelian concept of memory as a dynamic process of repetition that constantly reinvents itself. Her seemingly endless, repetitive tasks serve as a medium for the metaphorical construction of memory.
For the complete portfolio and more details about the artist and her practice visit artist’s website.
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