Performance art, by its very nature is hard to define , in fact you could argue of course; that’s the entire point of performance art. Like any kind of art it’s not to be characterized or pinned down, but rather to be interpreted and provided as general food for thought, the ideas behind surrealist performance art in particular is an attempt by the actors to jolt the audience out of the typical line of thinking, subvert their expectations and just generally encourage any kind of lateral thought and in “Amanda Coogan; Long Now” we’re treated to an uncompromising look at one of Ireland’s foremost performers and her latest piece “I’ll sing you a song from around the town.” We explore what exactly motivates such a performer and what exactly is the creative process behind such bizarre and sometimes nonsensical pieces.
Coogan’s own particular work seems to be based around communicating with the audience through slight movement or more specifically the act of doing rather simplistic actions really, really slowly, like constantly traveling up and down a set of stairs aimlessly or wiping soap against her dress in a continuous almost hypnotic motion, in her own words creating a loop in time that feels like a new infinity to her audiences. Time is clearly one of her most potent weapons at her disposal to the point where the first time minutes of her movie is a continuous show of a close up of her face during one of her performances, in fact most of the movie is shot in this manner: the scenes having a particular rhythm to them, a long drawn out shot of her in the middle of one of her shows while the woman herself provides her own personally insights on her passion before cutting rather abruptly to her walking around Dublin in bizarrely mundane circumstances, serving to underline her artistic passions meshing with her general lifestyle.
On the whole, the film manages to paint a clear portrait of the deep respect that Coogan has for the arts and her general passion for bringing her pieces to the forefront of Irish culture. A great introduction piece for the uninitiated
Amanda Coogan: Long Now will be screening at the IFI on Tuesday May 9th and again on Tuesday May 23rd. The first screening will be followed by a Q&A and the second screening will include sign language interpretation by Coogan.