Share this Article

Ireland Focus 2/3 | Suzanne Walsh, Katherine Nolan, Elvira Santamaría-Torres

14th July 2017

performingborders focus on Ireland is the result of the Fire Station Artists Studios (FSAS) International Curator Residency I undertook from 30 April to 9 May 2017 in Dublin. During the residency I have been discussing live art, borders and contemporary Europe with ten artists and art professionals in both Dublin and Belfast. The sound-interviews will be released in three parts in June, July and August 2017.

Many thanks to all the interviewees for their insightful perspectives, to Helena Walsh for her guidance, and to the wonderful staff at FSAS for their support!

This month performingborders presents interviews with artists Suzanne Walsh, Katherine Nolan and Elvira Santamaría-Torres

Ireland Focus 1/3: Áine Phillips and Moran Been-noon, and VAI (Visual Artists Ireland) Chief Executive Director, Noel Kelly.

Coming interviews, Ireland Focus 3/3: Brian Patterson, Amanda Coogan, Dominic Thorpe, Níamh Murphy.

SUZANNE WALSH, 2 May 2017, Dublin


BirdBecomeBird, vocal performance for the New Lacanian School International Congress in Dublin Castle, 2016. Photo credits Edward O’Mahony

performingborders (Alessandra Cianetti): Suzanne, my first question will be about The Land Where Nothing Is, a piece you have just presented on the Irish poet and revolutionary leader Thomas MacDonagh. Art, poetry, language, revolution. Can you tell a bit more about this work and what power in your opinion the word ‘revolution’ holds today?

Suzanne Walsh*:

* The poem read by Suzanne is part of ‘The Land Where Nothing is’, a series of 12 poems part of a video installation piece
** When mentioning ‘cultural revolution’ Suzanne actually meant ‘cultural revival’

performingborders (Alessandra): I am really interested in knowing more about the editorial project Critical Bastards. A cross-border critical writing effort that focuses on Irish artists’ practices and was born as a North and South Ireland collaboration and now it is branching out to New York. Would you mind to tell us more about its story and what Critical Bastards has in store for the future?


Suzanne Walsh is an artist from Wexford, currently in residence in Fire Station Studios in Dublin. She works mainly with text, performance and audio, both in an art context and also literary and musical. She is an editor for Critical Bastards art criticism magazine and writes on art, as well as essays, fiction and poetry. Her work often draws on the lines between humans and animal world, and language.

KATHERINE NOLAN, 3 May 2017, Dublin


The Mistress of the Mantle, 2017
Live performance at MART, Dublin. Image credit: Seamus Travers

performingborders (Alessandra): Katherine, your practice both as an artist and researcher addresses notions of genders and identity through new media and live art. Which role does the concept of border play in your work?

Katherine Nolan:

performingborders (Alessandra): I’d like to talk about a work you were commissioned last year for the Easter Risings Centenary celebrations: Burd of the Sorrows part of Future Histories. In this work your body became ‘the embodiment of the Irish nation as a woman, in contradiction to the repression of women’s full access to subject-hood in Irish society, lore and law’. Would you mind to tell us a bit more about this piece? Also, how do you think the recent developments in the negotiations between the UK and the EU, that see Ireland as one of its main objects, will impact in both your piece and live art works that address Ireland as a subject?


performingborders (Alessandra): As a curator involved in the activities of both MART and Dublin Live Art Festival, I wonder whether you detected any trajectory on the work of these organisations and/or artists’ works in responding to these recent international socio-political developments we discussed earlier.


Dr. Katherine Nolan is a contemporary artist working primarily in video, photography and performance. She is also a curator with MART, Livestock & Dublin Live Art Festival, and a lecturer in Digital Media at the Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown. Exploring tensions between the experiential and spectacular body, the artist turns a ‘trivial’ and ‘frivolous’ fixation with herself as image into a critical weapon, seeking to unravel narcissism and twist its clichéd terms. She employs strategies of pleasure, humour, complicity, resistance and intervention seeking to disrupt taken for granted cultural significations and trouble social agreements. She has performed and exhibited internationally in Europe, America and Asia. Recently at LACDA Los Angeles, Supermarket Art Fair Stockholm and the Freud Museum, London.  She currently lives and works in Dublin.


Cartografías de Sal. Elvira Santamaría. Performance-Instalación 24 horas. MACO, Oaxaca 2015. Fotografías Brian Patterson

Salt Cartographies, performance-Installation 24 hours. Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca, Mexico. Image by Brian Patterson 

performingborders (Alessandra): Elvira, you were born in Mexico City and now live in Belfast. Two cities in two countries that have deeply contentious borders and histories of struggles at these sites. How those internal and external borders have impacted on your long-term, reach practice as a live artist? In which way you have been negotiating your identity as a performer among these complex contexts?

Elvira Santamaría-Torres: 

performingborders (Alessandra): In your work you explore issues of humanism, feminism, politics and  among other live interventions you have been directly investigating urban spaces in relation to specific socio-political contexts. I’m thinking for example at the 2013 ‘Acciones Urbanas’ in Bogotá. Can you describe your process to inhabit those places and responding to them?


performingborders (Alessandra): You have been an active member of the Belfast performance and live art scene being part of both Black Market International and Bbeyond. How these experiences have been influencing your work? Also, how do you think the recent developments in contemporary politics (I’m thinking of Brexit and Trump here) will impact on both the art scenes you work in and your practice?

Elvira (two-part answer):

Additional first answers given by Elvira in written form can be dowloaded here: Elvira_Santamaria_Torres_text.

Elvira Santamaría-Torres was born in 1967 in México City. In 1994 She participated in the Firs Month of Performance Art in the University Museum El Chopo with the piece One sleepless night. In 1994 she won the First Price of the 3de Performance Art Month Award with the piece Donation for an igneous force and she was also invited to the Rencontre International de Art Performance in Quebec. Since then, Elvira Santamaría has shown her artwork in Festivals, Art Centres, galleries, Museums and public spaces in Mexico, Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America, such as: Expo Hannover 2000; Nippon International Performance Art Festival Tokyo, 2002; Mercosul Biennale Brazil, 2005; National Review of Live Art Glasgow, 2000, 2005, 2007, and 20011 and In place of Passing, Bbeyond, 2006. Santamaría has been member of Black Market International performance art group since 2000. She has organized and curated various performance art events like the International Performance Art Encounter in Yucatán, 2002-2006; Actions on Route, Interventions in Mexico City 2001 and 2003; InterSER0, International Action Art Encounter 2009 in the Carrillo Gil Museum of Art. In 2007 She made Urban Actions project in Bogotá. Since 2010 she has been committee member of Bbeyond, Performance art Organization in Northern Ireland. She was nominated for the ARTRAKERS Award 2013, Awarding Creativity in Art and Conflict in London. Her artwork has been publish in books, catalogues magazines and Internet, such as: Inter Review, Art Actuel 2011; Revista Efimera publish by Acción!MAD in Madrid 2011; Art & Agenda, Political Art and Activism by Gestalten 2012 y Double Exposures 2014.

Featured image credits: Salt Cartographies, performance-Installation 24 hours. Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca, Mexico. Image by Brian Patterson

You might also like