Arnolfini Exhibition: Physical Performance Art from the 70s and 80s

Arnolfini Exhibition: Physical Performance Art from the 70s and 80s

Fans of physical performance art, the Arnolfini have got out their archives, exhibiting a series of photographs and one video of performances from 1970s and 1980s. 

On the ground floor of the Arnolfini you will find a photograph from Alastair MacLannen's performance piece Is No. His solo piece commenced here, on the ground floor gallery space, in 1988. 54 hours long, it eventually spilled outside of the building and became a procession through the city of Bristol.

On the second floor the work of Paul Neagu is on display. A series of photographs of his 1976 piece captures a group of physical performance artists, who create a spiraling movement to reflect states of ecstasy.

Neagu published in his 'Palpable Art Manifesto': 

'The eye is fatigued, perverted, shallow, its culture is degenerate, degraded and obsolete, seduced by photography, film, television… You can take things in better, more completely, with your ten fingers, pores and mucous membranes than with only two eyes'. 

Originally published in 1969, Neagu's words are even more palpable today. 

Lastly, on the upper level in Gallery 5, a video of the Rosemary Butcher Dance Company's performance is played on loop. The archived recorded content of A Passage North East features dancers dressed in sleek yet casual attire. The dancers lean against one another and intertwine their bodies, altering the pace of their movement from slow to fast. Beginning outside the gallery, they travel by boat across the harbour to where the M-Shed stands now. They row themselves as a spectacle, closer to the audience. 

The archives will be displayed from now until Sunday April 9th, 11:00-18:00. 


Elena Angelides, Theatre Editor