Wild Swans Performance Art
During the initial 2020 lockdown, Wild Swans in conjunction with Bbeyond, invited artists to collaborate
in the project ‘Forgotten Places’a series of performances which took place in in Girona, Spain and Fanad,
Co. Donegal in August 2020. The project offers an introduction to performance art with 10 performances
by Donegal and Spain based and Bbeyond artists.
‘Forgotten Places’ explores our sense of place and space and the artist’s specific responses to site, place and
of a space. It captures how we create out of primal spatial experiences and how we embody feelings and images.
The artistic process began online with the artists and film maker and has continued over the months on a weekly
basis. Each artist has written a text related to their performance creating a digital document for the project.
The project crosses a threshold of various performance art approaches and is accessible to a wide general
audience through the RegionalCultural Centre in Letterkenny, County Donegal. It aims to make Performance
Art in Donegal more accessible for everyone and to encourage artists to move into the space of
performance art as an art practice.
Wild Swans was founded by artists Denys Blacker, Girona, Spain and Bernadette Hopkins, Co. Donegal, Ireland
as a performance art exchange project between Spain and Donegal, supported by Bbeyond Performance Art, Belfast.
We thank Creative Ireland and Donegal County Council for funding the project and also Regional Cultural Centre,
Co. Donegal for their support and facilitation in bringing the work to a wide audience.
Lesley Yendell | Chlorophyll Affair
Outside my studio La Pedrera (the stone quarry) are a number of large leaved lime trees or Tilia platyphyllos of the Malvaceae family.
Throughout the years they have accompanied me, silent witnesses to my activities. I have a relationship to them, I have watched them
as they have grown and matured. Rooted in the solid rock of the stone quarry, I don-t know how their roots penetrate the hard ground,
I imagine fine tendrils seeking out tight fissures in the rock.
In the summer, under their densely leaved branches, the bright green leaves are heavy with sap and there it is surprisingly cool. The creat-
ion of a leaf mantle woven from their leaves opens the story. The act of assembling and making it confers meaning upon it and it is carried
like a shield.
Totemic it conceals my body. This loose leaf shaped cloak attests to unseen power, light-energy and processes of transformation that arise
in the tree, the leaves which are intimately related to photosynthesis, networks and circulatory systems are its medium. The metaphorical
and physical weaving of this semi transparent mantle of pale green leaves, shields me as the canopy layer does the forest. By the nature of
its material the cloak is destined to break down and fall apart, by the hour it dries and becomes less malleable, more fragile until it
crumbles and breaks down and joins the action taking place underground revealing a secret, forgotten and unrecognised mutualistic
From science to symbol, chemical process to communication, the life cycle is as complex and magical as the trees’ intense inner life and its development that follows its own laws.
James King | Forgotten Spaces
Often spaces are made memorable by events (often tragic and sad in N.Ireland and around the world). Shootings and other terrible
happenings make spaces iconic.Performance artists also may make a space memorable (to themselves at least). They might, in the
process , temporarily, or lastingly, transform the space – particularly during site specific actions. Forgotten spaces might well be
very attractive to performance artists; providing opportunity and challenge : an opportunity to experience a fascinating environment,
or to highlight an issue of local concern. A challenge to make art in surroundings of limited opportunity; or where there is such
grandeur that “ art “ seems superfluous.
Forgotten not neglected, forgotten not yet found, forgotten and neglected, forgotten and flourishing,
Remembered, recalled no longer forgot.
I reflect upon forgotten spaces and places
and they become remembered places and spaces.
A space is empty, an empty space,
A place has people and things.
Places are common, common place.
Place is on stage, space is wings.
Spaces are rare , yet everywhere,
You have even space in your head.
There’s more space than substance in every cell,
Dreams go to the moon from your bed.
If you don’t know your place
you could be in disgrace,
and be put in your place
but you’ll never know space
and that’s no disgrace.
you can feel out of place
but not out of space.
There’s no place like home
so you need space to roam,
your place or my place,
could we go to Rome?
Juliette Murphy | A O U E I
An old track, winding in the dry heat through a Mediterranean forest full of imperceptible existence,
conjures by turn islands of motion and stillness, movement of repeated steps, the low sound of letters sung.
The order of the vowels of the Beith-luis-nin alphabet is related to ancient earlier beliefs which travelled by sea
with the Black Sea tribes or the Scythians through the Hellespont; or journeyed with the Phoenicians to Iberia;
or were most probably transported by Perseus who flew from the glades of Tartessus to the forests of Ireland with
the letters of the alphabetwrapped in a crane-bag.
The cryptic alphabet whispers of the invisible roots that nurture displacement. It sings of chthonic knowledge and
of the spiral growth of trees in extreme conditions, of plants and seasons, of the ebb and flow of the tide, of
regeneration and renewal in a cycle of eternal return.
Aodán McCardle | Spaces
Sandra Johnson | Rare Sightings
The space between a table and chairs
pulled out and returned, some rarely pulled out, some never returned,
A tidal motion where each chair swills awkwardly in the hand, cranked backwards with a slight screech on the stone floor, the body floods into the gap, wakens in the current of resumed connection, feet to the floor, head slightly hunched over, arms that rest or hover on the shoreline, bracket or fold on the surface, wash expression from the face in a motion of careless weather, resume contract with time as steam rises from a cup, or the damp, solid smell of boiled potatoes congealing on a plate, molluscs in their own juices, begging and borrowing thoughts as the debris moves diagonally along a slippery tide, stones, pebbles and sand clog up the arteries, a myriad of colours glinting in the sun, a forgotten self is found picking apart light from dark, sandstone from quartz, the skeletal fineness of shells, chalky to the hand, the tip of the tongue crashes hard on an inner wall of stone, crevices and edges ground down by words, slips backwards in retreat, making peace with the part that got broken off, swallowed in increments, slowly over time, the sea takes back the false edges of the land, as the table resists the weight of inconvenient memory.
Not seeking to contain an idea
a presence lurks in the side-rooms of a place that may or may not exist,
the memory is twofold, it implicates previous impressions
any place can conjure these false witnesses
an endless feeling of previousness
then some moments of interruption, lightness of evocation
seeing again without dragging across the heavy weaponry of memory
seeing without identifying
seeing without necessarily identifying
seeing as noticing, no more no less
unseeing in order to remember more clearly what is so easily forgotten
a woman’s shoe hidden in the seaweed, bloated by saturation lies side by side with an upturned sheep disintegrating into the sand, one leg skeletal and broken away from the corpse, ragged, it looks like it belongs to another creature, the eyeless shrunken skull cleaves to the sand, retreating, while the shoe, misshapen, lies solitary among the black woven fibres, it’s insoles inflate to fill out the cavity with a scroll of grey foam, nearby a clear plastic flower head sits among the stones, broken off a scandal, luminous as a shellfish worn transparent, the waves rattle their sabres, claw back the beach, threaten the displaced with another eviction, a ripe aroma of entrails blows in tandem to the suck of the waves, the found and the formless, salt bitten and remoulded, black rocks mark journeys end.
Rotnip | DIY addiction
El espacio olvidado fue recordado y visitado, las capturas que realiza la percepción han operado orientándose a zonas que
probablemente serán también olvidadas. El espacio continua inadvertido.
El olvido es una militancia que practicamos todos, para que sea posible el lugar olvidado es necesaria la existencia de qui-
enes lo han olvidado, los operadores del olvido. Probablemente el lugar mas olvidado sea el planeta. Un pensamiento que
puede ser expresado en un micro texto.
Rotnip: Chile 1953. pintura y dibujo,practicante del arte de Acción.,frecuenta el universo de la música y los sonidos.
The forgotten space was remembered and visited, the captures made by perception have operated orienting themselves to
areas that will probably also be forgotten. The space continues unnoticed.
Oblivion is a militancy that we all practice, so that the forgotten place is possible, the existence of those who have forgotten
it is necessary, the operators of oblivion. Probably the most forgotten place is the planet. A thought that can be expressed in
a micro text.
Rotnip: Chile 1953. painting and drawing, practitioner of the art of Action., Frequents the universe of music and sounds.
Denys Blacker | Lethe
Forgotten interior spaces
Inner gaps of consciousness or forgotten memories.
Lost in time
Mnemosyne, the Greek Titaness (from the Greek “to stretch, to extend, to spread forth”), mother of the nine muses, is said to have guarded
a pool of water in Hades, that flowed from the river Lethe. As the dead drank from the pool, they would forget all that had ever happened to
them before, ensuring a reincarnation free from the taints of their past life. Initiates could then drink from the river Mnemosyne which would
help them to remember all that was about to pass in their future life. This strange relationship that memory has with time and experience is something that stretches at the limits of our consciousness. We struggle through our life trying to capture what is important and relevant as it
flows past us in a torrent of conscious and unconscious experience, fishing for the moment and cultivating attention in repetition, only to we
find ourselves sleeping again, swimming in the waters of oneiric space with the vestiges of the remembered and the forgotten floating into our minds and out again, regurgitated and transformed.
This is where we find ourselves, in the flickering space between remembering and forgetting, knowing and not knowing, between what has already happened and what is about to occur. This space is the present yet finding our way there and holding ourselves in it is an enormous
and difficult task. It would seem that if we try too hard to be totally aware, we can’t, but if we try not to try, it’s no better.
Brian Patterson | PROEM in memory of my mother
“Where does a thought go when its forgotten?”
My initial thoughts for Forgotten Places was about who forgets? That forgetting is a human aspect that loosens the conjoining of time and space, so either one or both fade from memory. These terms succinctly encompass Heidegger’s term for human existence, Dasein, literally translated
as ‘there being’, or as we would say, ‘being there’, so Dasein locates the human in place and time. Forgotten also suggests a point in time prior
to forgetting, that consciously locates the human in time and place, where the interaction between the human and landscape meet and are known.
These meetings or encounters are events, performative happenings, where subjective-objective dialogue/s takes place, in time. These meetings where the inner world of space meets outer world of place. In turn highlights the active potentials of a subjective world interacting with the latent potentials of an objective world and that, where – there, potentially presents in turn another unique world, art. In this realm, art presents potentials for opening up existence highlighting something uniquely unfolding and disappearing in time, this presence is a present, maybe not forgotten by those who witnessed it.
Toni Crabb | Banquet for the ants that never came
“In a sense, the essence of living is a sort of memory, the physical preservation of the past in the present. By reproducing, life forms
bind the past and record messages for the future. The oxygen-shunning bacteria of today tell us about the oxygenless world in which
they arose. Fossilfish tell us of open bodies of water in continuous existence for a hundred million years. Seeds that require freezing
temperatures to germinatetell us of frozen winters. Our own human embryos represent stages of animal development ( … ) Life will
change in order to preserve itself”.
Lynn Margulis, Microcosmos.
Memory, we feel, is a guarantee of continuity. Loss of memory or serious ruptures in our sense of continuity such as we are experiencing
now inspire fear, dread, inability to sequence etc. We like spaces to be containers of memory, places we revisit to invoke memories or draw
on the sense of continuity, of belonging (in our own skin, in the perimeters of an architecture, in a landscape). Forgetting, etymologically,
is failing to grasp, to get or hold onto. Memory wants a certain hold on things.
I wonder about the human hold on things, what we do to “grasp” places, how much of a sense of entitlement operates in this. On my first
walks after lockdown I saw asparagus growing like snakes, and several snakes, and then some days later, as people came out of lockdown,
one wither head crushed, which I buried. Other living things had flourished and not contained themselves within the boundaries we imagine.
Shoots of plants that had grown out into the space above paths were snapped off slowly. The path is ours, we think, and we want to recognise
it, to continue to go back along it. Its edges are not that permeable to other life forms.
But the exuberance and the sense of purity during that period, of life left alone, untrampled, unfettered, forgotten in a certain sense,
unseen …also remain in me as a memory and a longing. We spoke of change but are unable to relinquish the memory of how we are, act,
During lockdown I learnt to tread very gently, because I felt fearful but also because there was a nightingale in a tree nearby a place I went who sang throughout the later weeks. The police took to driving past at 8pm with sirens on and advertising their presence. I remember seeing a rabbit dash away and feeling how it felt.
I don’t want to live in fear and certainly not in confinement, but I don’t like the human sense of entitlement (in myself and others) and I want gentler, less anthropocentric ways of relating. I wonder how to do this being human. How far can the imagination stretch in a fundamental,
not a momentary or superficial way? The Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera spoke of ant traces as a “peculiar disturbance easily forgotten”.
I like this idea of presence. We don’t want to efface our presence from the planet, we want to be here. How do we make our presence less of
a polarity, an opposition to life? And memory, what was, to be an openness to otherness as well as a holding on to the familiar?
Bernadette Hopkins | Steeped was a word she used
‘Steeped, was a word she used’
that first cut of granite, scraped and shaped, was put on boats
and floated out on a buoyant ocean, followed by sons and daughters
eleven babies scooped out, delivered
left an unseen wound in a small woman
with an independent spirit
whose sacrifice was unrequited
no one heard
as hers was not the sanguine or bullish story
that this new republic cared for
on second thoughts
there are many ways to cut out a tongue and poverty is one
my mother grew steeped in it
she rose out of this submerged language and sense of otherness
she saw herself in rock pools and sheets of wet sands, as an elemental force
her skin taut over protruding wrist bones and strong calf muscles
barefoot and untamed with a mane of copper
she didn’t take the garments given to her by church and state
late at night
she sewed gowns of autonomy and liberty and wore them in solidarity
she hurled ideas of family law and rights for women
like boulders out into a sea of tuts
my grandmothers table stands here in the tides of time
in ebbs and flows
cyclical rhythms and measurements that women understand
forget me not, I hear her say