During the residency at L’Animal a l’Esquena, Celrà, Ocells al Cap invited the artists who were unable to come in person because of the COVID19 pandemic, to take part in performance duets at a distance. The artists from afar were projected onto a large screen and the artists present at the residency stood with their back to the screen and with their eyes shut. The artists performed simultaneously and the works were observed for synchronicities.
The participating artists were: Lesley Yendell, Natàlia Espinet, Mireia Zantop, Nieves Correa, Pauline Cummings, Martine Viale, Marina Barsy, Denys Blacker, Juliette Murphy, Montse Seró, Isa Fontbona, Anna Subirana, Paloma Orts, Mar Ximenis.
Tentacular Thinking was presented at La Casa de la Paraula in Santa Coloma de Farners on the 2nd February 2019. The participating artists were: Denys Blacker, Juliette Murphy, Mireia Zantop, Lesley Yendell, Paloma Orts, Melina Peña and Ada Vilaró.
The audience are asked to talk together and to decide on an important question. They are given 15 minutes to discuss this and the artists leave the gallery so as not to hear. The question is hidden from view and the artists return and make a group improvisation.
At the end, the question is read and a discussion takes place about what happened in the performance in relation to the question.
We Were Waiting for You was presented at the Mediterranean Museum in Toroella de Montgri on the 30th June 2018. The participating artists were: Mar Serinya, Denys Blacker, Lesley Yendell, Marta Vergonyós, Ada Vilaró, Melina Peña and Mireia Zantop.
The Oracle was presented at Al Jardí in Cadaquès on the 2nd July 2017. The participating artists were: Helen Collard, Marta Vergonyós, Denys Blacker, Nuria Iglesias, Montse Seró, Martine Viale, Sandra Johnston and Mar Serinyá. Photos by Jordi García Moriel.
In The Oracle, the audience were asked to write down a question that was important to them or that they were curious to have an answer for, and to hide the paper from the view of the artists. The artists then began to improvise with objects that they have brought with them. The person who has made the question takes notes and one of the group (who doesn’t know the question ) also takes notes. At the end of the improvisation the texts are read and the audience comment on the content. As usual, the only rule is that the artists can only move when moved by an inner conviction to move and otherwise to remain still.
We Were Waiting for You is an experimentation with telepathic communication and was presented at FLARE 3 in Vane Gallery, Newcastle on 4th May 2017. The participating artists were: Denys Blacker, Mireia Zantop, Lesley Yendell, Sabina Vilagut, Marta Vergonyós, Natàlia Espinet, Victoria Gray, Helena Hunter. Photos by Arto Polus.
For the preparation of the performance, each participating artist (5 in Catalonia and 2 in the UK) selected six objects that were packed into cabin-size suitcases to take on the journey to Newcastle. What is in each suitcase is only known by the artist who packed it. The suitcases were later shown along side the photographic documentation at Bòlit Contemporary Art Centre (Girona) as part of the exhibition Denys Blacker – Mapes Efimers; a retrospective show.
We Were Waiting for You, presents the audience with the chance to become involved in a performance, in which relationships can unfold without coercion, by personal choice. Anyone who has a question to ask, may take their place as a silent supplicant or instigator within the process. Their question is written down, but not shown to the performance group. The performance then unfolds in response to this secret question, hidden from view until afterwards and only known to the person who asks it.
Artists without knowing the question, begin to respond through improvised movements and sounds and by taking out and using selected objects from their suitcases. The only rule is that they should not move at all unless they have a strong compulsion to move. It is not a choice, it is a sensation, an intuition. Sometimes all the artists interact, sometimes only a few. Only those who experience the need to participate, participate.
The questioning person sits at a table with a paper and pen to take notes and an artist from the group sits next to them. She will also write. They have to write down everything they observe, without thinking, responding only to what they see unfolding in the performance.
The role of the performance artist as protagonist is transformed by the fact that the content and meaningfulness is given to the work by another person’s vision, formed in the particular question chosen by that person. The questioner take notes, a circumstantial testimonial in a style of writing that, by nature of its immediacy comes close to automatic writing or a stream of consciousness response. A witness from the performance group makes notes as well, in order to record only what they see. This is later shared with the audience. The question is also shared at the end of the performance if the person who asked it, so wishes. The two texts are read aloud, and a discussion takes place between audience and participants, sharing observations and interpretations of the actions that occurred.
This group improvisation was presented at La_Carbonera, Bòlit Contemporary Art Centre in Girona on the 28th November 2015 during the International artists residency organised by FEM International Meeting of Women Performance Artists. The participating artists were: Anet Van de Elzen, Mireia Zantop, Denys Blacker, Harriet Plewis, Natàlia Espinet, Anita Ponton, Ada Vilaró, Mar Serinyá and Montse Seró. The performance was followed by a discussion with the audience.
Performance presented at Festival Escena Poble Nou, Barcelona with Lesley Yendell, Juliette Murphy, Natàlia Espinet, Denys Blacker, Montse Seró y Mireia Zantop. Photos by Claudia Serrahima.
We meet in the hall where we will be performing in Poble Nou, Barcelona. We have each come prepared to make a ninety-minute performance with our own objects and props. The title Pomps of the Subsoil is taken from a painting by the painter Leonora Carrington, chosen because it portrays a group of bird-headed women, but we are not using it as a reference in the work. Each artist has prepared their own individual performance alone, but now we will present them together in the same space. We have had no contact or communication between us about what we will do beforehand. We will begin working simultaneously, each allowing our movements and objects to overlap and interfere until a group consciousness arises. The planned work will give way to improvisation and interaction as time goes on. This is the first time we have seen the room we will be performing in. There are windows on all sides but it will be dark when we begin. We unpack our bags, while watching each other and the array of objects that begin to appear in the space. There is an air of positive anticipation, a good feeling. Lesley has brought a tray of small beautifully tied white paper parcels, labelled with the royal names of vegetables. Juliette is covered by a dark blue cloak. Later during the performance when she takes it off, we see she is covered in more than eighty small, white origami birds, a dark blue wimple tied to her head by a mass of black ribbon. Mireia takes out a white cloth and lays out a row of pale wooden kitchen objects, then a ball of white raffia. She places a stainless steel bowl full of coins onto a zebra-striped cushion. Montse has brought dried leaves and is wearing blue. She has blue bags full of blue feathers hanging round her neck. I have brought white objects and on the floor around me I place my long white cloth sleeves, a woven length of white porcelain strips, a white porcelain cone on a red velvet cushion, two planks of wood, a ball of white wool, one white cushion, scissors, a hammer, string and nails. Natalia opens her suitcase and reveals two red notebooks, some pens and a copy of The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. She has several dresses, red and black. We can’t help noticing that nearly all of the objects spaced around the room are white or pale. Marta is absent, but she has written to us an email. When we open it afterwards, we read that she was planning to bring “white offerings for each one; flour for Lesley, salt for Mireia, sugar for Denys, and talcum powder for Madame Juliette”. Before we even begin, this whiteness is noticeable, is it a telepathic connection between us? Is it by chance or design?
The group Ocells al Cap came together for the first time in 2014 when Marta Vergonyós and Denys Blacker were invited by the Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona) and the Women’s Cultural Centre la Bonne (Barcelona) to make a performance for the exhibition about Allan Kaprow’s work called ‘Otras Maneras‘ curated by Soledad Gutiérrez. They invited a group of women artists to make a reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s work ‘The Birds’, renaming it ‘Birds in the Head’. The participating artists were: Denys Blacker, Mar Serinyá, Marta Vergonyós, Mireia Zantop, Ada Vilaró, Natàlia Espinet, Clara Garí, Paloma Orts, Montse Seró, Nuria Iglesias, Nina Orteu, Lesley Yendell and Sue Blacker.