Memoranda: Triple AAA
© By André Stitt , Adrian Hall and Alastair MacLennan
Triple AAA was a collaborative performance project enacted by Adrian Hall, Alastair MacLennan and myself at Catalyst Arts in Belfast between 16- 20 September 2013, in which our own collective history formed a visible presence through ‘live’ performance.
The entitled Memoranda sought to engage and draw upon common experiences of the Troubles via the dynamics of the pedagogical environment at the art college in Belfast and how that time and place, Belfast in the 1970’s, influenced our art/life practice thereafter. When combined, central concerns which emerged were issues of recall, location and displacement that created what one might term a practice of ‘act-archiving’43, whereby an archive is produced during ‘live’ performance. In effect, memory was constantly decoded and converted through use of specific materials with the physical detritus used in a cyclical and ritualistic manner to enable successive actions to emerge. This deconstruction/ reconstruction binary created a porous or permeable version of Northern Ireland as a state of mind; based on memory of particular time, place and activity in Belfast in the mid-late 1970’s enacted with the accumulated life experience of times between then and now. The activity in the form of an extended installation/performance became the central activator of a ‘memoranda’ or archive of experience.
In this ‘post-conflict’ time of our return we sought to engage with a city composed of material traces, ruptures, assertions, digressions, mutations and representations of conflict. This combined with adhesive creative practices, pedagogy and competing historical formations became our contested territory, offered as a collective meditation on our own witnessing.
In Memoranda documentations of our own individual art practice, including photographs of performances, texts, drawings and related materials from the 1970’s, were combined with newspaper reports from the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News specific to dates we had each lived through in Belfast, along personal materials associated with, and identified as, an iconography of practice.
The performance site installation consisted of a long table, photocopier, industrial paper shredder, museum vitrine, video projections of locations (past and present) and a continuous recorded recitation of all the names of those who died as a consequence the Troubles. The recording was played backwards and relentlessly insinuated itself as a hypnotic presence into the environment that also acted as an historic marker of events and auditory testimony. This structural fulcrum created an historical time-loop that took audience and artists back through time, and with the iteration of ‘memoranda’ as a consequence of the ‘live’ performance returning us to the present. During five days documentations were continually shredded, ritual based cyclical actions were performed in and around the central table; the space completely converted into an overwhelming array of residues and historical detritus.
For each of us in Triple AAA a resolution of sorts was defined by the intensity and focus of five days excavation, interaction, navigation and perishable reduction. For me the accumulative performance reached a moment of finality realised through the body as transgressive metaphor with the textual, phonetic and vernacular rendering of the words ‘Norn Irn’ being cut into the flesh of my arm. Recalling that initial transgressive act of art immolation Art Is Not A Mirror It’s a Fucking Hammer, this final ‘akshun’ at the conclusion of the Triple AAA performance brought to an end my own engagement with performance art specific to Northern Ireland.
Video Clip: An extract from “One Inch to the Left” by Oisin Kearney