Redux : Speakers : Amanda Coogan

Amanda Coogan is a performance artist at the forefront of some of the most exciting and prolific durational performances to date. She has studied at a multitude of art institutions, including Hochschule für Bildende Kunste, Germany, under the self-acclaimed “grandmother of performance art,” Marina Abramović and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Ulster.
She is to the forefront of live, durational performance presented in the gallery as live exhibition. Her practice involves communicating ideas through longitudinal performance. Her expertise lies in her ability to condense an idea to its very essence and communicate it through her body. Her work often challenges the expectations of discernible context, such as head banging to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and signing the lyrics to Gill Scott-Heron’s ‘The Revolution will not be Televised. Her extraordinary work is challenging, provocative and always visually stimulating. Represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, Coogan exhibits her work internationally and was awarded the Aillied Irish Bank’s Art prize in 2004.

For Redux, Coogan will be giving a presentation titled ‘Yellow once, Yellow twice, Yellow three times…oh lady!’ Coogan’s presentation will focus on her 2010 project Yellow-Reperformed. Taking a micro approach, Coogan looked to her solo live performance Yellow as the starting point for a re-performance project. This durational live performance was taken outside of the artist’s body and offered to five performers to remake. Coogan will present her journey of mining this embodied, improvisational, durational work.

She writes:

After 47 hours of live performance of Yellow, the first question of this project was how to ‘handover’ the work to be re-made by other performers? Through a process of posthumous reflective diaries I drew up a three lined script as the basis of a handover document:


Tableau Vivant – Performer is present before audience enter space. Audience is free to come and go.
Performer sits on top of bucket, back straight.

1. Performer submerges skirt inbetween legs into water. Pulls out material. Rubs material together in 8/8 time. Bubbles arbitrarily form.

2. Performer holds scrubbed material out to audience. Looks audience in the eye. Resubmerges material into water. Continues scrubbing in 8/8 time.

3. Performer wrings material, from bottom to top forming a crown of bubbles at tip. Blow bubbles off tip. Take tip in mouth. Bite material. Stand up holding material in teeth. Bare teeth and shake head.

Repeat loop, sequence variable. Duration: 4 hours.

Sunflower yellow dress, shirt collar, short sleeves,  4 gold buttons down the front, gold belt. Skirt of dress is volumous, stretching to 5 meters in length.

White bucket, placed center, the seat and site of action.
Bucket filled to the top with water and bubble bath.
Bucket holds 80 litres of water.

Bubble bath for bucket = 1litre of Sailor Matey brand.
Bubble bath for skirt = 500ml of Mermaid Matey brand, poured into lap.

Room dimly lit, bucket/performer area simply spotlit.

Apart from these instructions this project was open to elements of controlled instability in live presentation. I did not want these re-performances to be reproductions. Yellow, I knew as the artist and maker, incurred endurance; the performer is wet for the majority of the performance leading to a cold body shock. The ‘flow’ of the performer’s presentation is dynamically interrupted by this distinct instability.

Is Yellow-Reperformed just another contemporary artists project with its sights on an appointment with destiny? This was an opportunity to draw other performers into the work, expanding a unique containable singular to a series of interpretations and appropriations. The process of handing over the work also prized open of a work of improvisational, durational, endurance based and embodied practice. It inserts the artist/performers voice into the historicization of the work. But significantly, I will contend, this re-performance project became a form of appropriation art, facilitating a number of subsequent artworks that sprung from the project of the live re-performance of Yellow.

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