Work for Live Art Danmark
2013 Performance at Samtalekøkken, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen
Standing to the side of the stage, or the area were the audience focusses their attention because a video is projected, Brian starts his performance by hiding his head between his hands, like someone in distress. The gesture slowly merges into others. His fingers move around his head and we feel we might see devil’s horns or a vampire’s fangs. From a pocket of his impeccable black suit, he produces a disposable camera, and in slow, ceremonial gestures, reminding us of an uncanny if not too skillful magician, he proceeds to snap pictures of audience members, interrupted by the sound of winding the film manually forward. All his movements are slow and measured, his large body protectively hunched over his camera, a feeling of distress lingers. He produces a paving stone from somewhere, and, kneeling on the floor, methodically smashes his camera to bits, then pulls out the exposed film and dangles it from his mouth. No images are to be had, no conventional image will help to explain this encounter.
For a second action, Brian puts on a black ski mask to which he attaches several identical black gadgets. Their purpose remains unclear, but they emit a blinding light and a screeching sound, not unlike that of a swarm of birds in panic. He moves through the nave of the church that Nikolaj Kunsthal once was, sometimes closer, sometimes farther away from the audience, many of whom clutch their ears in distress. Finally, he disappears through a door in the wall with a no access sign on it and soon after, somewhere in the distance, the terrible sound finally fades.
About the Artist
Brian Catling teaches Fine Art at the University of Oxford. His oeuvre spans performance art, painting, video, sculpture, poetry and books, and he organizes a yearly Christmas cabaret of performance art, Cabaret Melancholique.
“I am obsessively engaged in the collision of separate activities that sometimes fuse together in a hybrid event – they being the writing of poetry, the constructing of sculptural installation and the action of performance. Most recently they have fetched up as video works.”