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Aodán McCardle

performed on November 7, 2012
Béal Festival, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
performed once in 2012


Donegal, Ireland


My practice is Performance Writing as an improvisational process of composition. As part of London Under Construction (LUC), my poetry developed toward a form of collective and collaborative improvisation. Subsequently, the key engagement of improvisation in my work is that it allows the temporal conditions of any live performance to have a greater influence on the form and condition of the work.

“‘Níl’ ‘abair’” is a continuation of a series of ongoing developed improvisational performances which has at its center not only the impossibility of revisiting the live performance but the added condition of the temporality of improvisation.

The original work, “abair,” performed as a site-specific response at An Gailearaí gallery in Gweedore, Donegal, considered the place of the Gealtacht in the contemporary art world. It has been pursued through “anarcheological blog” by VSK, “Poetry in Process” at Mater Dei and “Environmental Utterance” at University College Falmouth. At the Béal Festival in Dublin in November 2012, it was considered through the erasures of accretion as the materials of re-performance impinged upon the original. The dynamic of Robert Ashley’s work, a central influence on this year’s Béal Festival, further skewed or elucidated the original performance of “abair.”

The performance used projection, soundscape, drawing and writing as modes of investigation. For the performance at the Béal Festival, the materials accrued during its previous explorations were presented in the form of a pre-existing short film, mixing the sound and concrete poetry which functioned as a score for its first manifestation, with additional footage of materials relating to the original process of composition used in its second form. Images of temporal context were added during its third form, along with material relating to formal academic critique from its fourth shape.

In addition to the overall form of operation, methods of movement, site-specific potentials and materials such as A2 paper, charcoal and a body suit (as used in the first performance) were maintained through each re-performance, although the various site-specific details were allowed to impinge. The improvisation at Béal became dominated by a repeated written rhythm of the name “Robert Ashley.” With the emphasis on sound, the eroded charcoal writing became spit and the impact of flesh on paper. The stance and particular confusions of the poet as both maker and audience of the work are carried forward as developing material of the ongoing performance. In this sense, recognitions achieved through previous vectors of performance are instigators of future work.