André Stitt

Performance Art

André Stitt was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1958. He studied at Ulster Polytechnic and Belfast College of Art & Design, Ulster University 1976-1980. From 1980-1999 he lived and worked in London increasingly travelling and making work internationally throughout the eighties and nineties. In 1999 he moved to Wales to take up position as Subject Leader of Time Based Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design, UWIC. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Working almost exclusively as a performance and interdisciplinary artist from 1976-2008. Stitt gained an international reputation for cutting edge, provocative and politically challenging work. A predominate theme in his artistic output is that of communities and their dissolution often relating to trauma, conflict and art as a redemptive proposition. His ‘live’ performance and installation works have been presented at major museums, galleries and sites specific throughout the world.

“Being brought up in Belfast and Seymour Hill housing estate at the height of the ‘Troubles’ making art was a matter of life and death for me. A relationship between my subjective reality, imagination and creativity to the profound frustration and anger bound by the status of domination, intolerable powerlessness, desperation and traumatic suffering connected to the politics of history, memory, place and culture forever influenced my idea of making art as a redemptive proposition.

With a working class background immersed in the ideals of equality allied to socialism subverted by the prism of violent political sectarianism; the main discipline of my art making changed when I attended art school in Belfast from 1976-1980. With a previous background in painting my practice changed radically as I became engaged in the current artistic debates of the time embracing performance art as a means for direct action and confrontation in an environment of civil conflict. I saw art as a practice that could offer limitless variation – my practice became interdisciplinary with emphasis on non-commodification, process & ‘live’ interaction. My work has since responded to my own history and memory and the issues surrounding sectarianism, manipulation and control. This has extended to an investigation of the body in relation to trauma.

Many of the principles of practice embodied in my life have evolved from that initial collision of possibilities. I often think about the war in Northern Ireland that made me what I am, and how out of necessity and survival, I was brought to an affirmative understanding of the transformative power, sense of freedom, wonder, and dignity that making art has afforded me.”