Helena Walsh

Live Art and Video Performance


Photography Jordan Hutchings

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In Pursuit of Pleasure was performed as part of LABOUR (2012): a touring exhibition of Live Art, featuring eleven leading female artists who are resident within, or native to, Northern and Southern Ireland. I co-curated LABOUR with Amanda Coogan and Chrissie Cadman. LABOUR was produced by Benjamin Sebastian, the assistant director of ]performace s p a c e[, London.

LABOUR comprised of three durational live exhibitions, the first exhibition took place in ]performance s p a c e[, London, a disused plumbing factory located on an industrial estate in East London, an area synonymous with migrant labour. It then toured to Void Gallery, Derry/ Londonderry, a former shirt factory that predominantly employed women. The final exhibition took place in The Lab, Dublin, located in the heart of 'The Monto, Dublin's historic prostitution district and in close proximity to one of Ireland's Magdalen Laundries. In each durational exhibition the participating artists performed simultaneously for 8 consecutive hours.

My performance in LABOUR questions the territorial control of female reproductive autonomy in an Irish context and the cultural ideologies that situate penance as a condition of female sexual pleasure. The performance proposes the assertion of empowered forms of female pleasure as significant to women gaining full rights over their bodies in an Irish context.

Materials used in the performance include soil, Catholic altar bread, baby bottles filled with milk and menstrual blood, condoms filled with laundry powder and knitting needles.

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