DIY: 2019 – Claire MacDonald: Curse Bless me Now

Daring to curse. Blessing when the world is ending.

Deadline for applications: 2pm, Thursday 20 June
This DIY is supported by LADA

Project summary

What do you want to bless, or curse — and how? The curse and the blessing take us beyond our commitment to the power of language to record and describe and into into the uncanny and the prophetic. This DIY draws on poetics and ecology, experimental language practices in art and performance, and on spiritual and political traditions to explore what new cursings and blessings might be and do. Since we all curse and we can all bless, this is a project open to all.

Beginning and ending in the East End of London, in and around the Garrett Centre in Bethnal Green, the DIY will take place over two days. It will map a series of journeys taking place at specific times and places between dawn to dusk, that mark human presence and that enable us to engage with the material/organic/industrial/domestic presence(s) there. The outcomes will be to create our own blessings and curses. These will not be purely spoken but gestured and sounded. At each site we will meet a figure who will invite us into a space/place — artists and others with an interest in language/performance and/or nature/ecology/spirituality. In between we will have time for reflection and writing. We will ‘record’ the blessing and cursings we make, and responses to them, in a number of ways — including sketching, mapping, scoring, sound recording, printing, calligraphy. We will end the two days with a meal at which we will close the loop of blessing and cursing and, no matter how much we have touched what it means to curse, we will end with blessing.  As the poet Marge Percy says:

Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue.
If you can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

How to apply

Artists will be selected through a simple application form that asks them to outline their interest in the expanded field of art and performance making with language(s) and in the field of poetics and/or spiritual traditions. It is suited to those who are able to commit  to a long two days working collectively and as individuals; who can bring an ability to listen, an interest in the poetic, prophetic aspects of language and an interest in working with those things. Artists will be selected based on their level of interest in and engagement with the themes and ideas of the DIY and the ways in which it could nourish their creative practice. Although this DIY works with and across language the call is open to artists working in any media. Artists from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Willingness to experiment and collaborate are the key selection criteria.

Dates, times and location

Dates: 21 – 22 September 2019
Location: LADA, London

The artist

Claire is a writer with a background in performance, committed to working in social change and art contexts to explore new ways of doing, being and meaning through conversation and collective practice. She began her practice as a maker in an ensemble theatre company in which language could be a sonic, kinetic, material element. Claire is now also a Unitarian minister interested in ways we embody and work with speech, sound and space to mark changes and thresholds in our lives. As a practitioner Claire writes across cultures and genres. Claire has written about collaboration, conversation, conviviality, translation, experimental writing and feminist art. Claire is a founding editor of the journal Performance Research and her recent book of theatre texts Utopia was published by Intellect Books in 2015. As an activist for change Claire is committed to the idea, to quote the composer John Luther Adams, that change originates in culture and not in politics, and that art, like religion, operates at the moving edge of experience, always edging into what is just beyond what we think we know.

For questions about this DIY, please contact the artist.

Banner image credit:

Image credit: the artist

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