(Above, top left: 'Sirkus' bar at Frieze Art Fair by Kling and Bang; bottom left & right: Barry Sykes and Duncan Mcafee performing in the 'Sirkus' bar)

'MONOLOGUE FOR THE SIRKUS' 2008
Improvised performance (with Duncan Mcafee)

I was asked by Kling and Bang, an art gallery and artist collective from Iceland, to devise a new performance for the iconic but recently closed-down Reykjavik 'Sirkus' bar that they were rebuilding in the middle of the Frieze Art Fair tent. The bar was packed all weekend and with a constant queue of people coming in to take in the meticulously recreated atmosphere.

I decided to attempt to write a new text, live and entirely improvised in the bar, with one other person. The plan was simply for us both to stand amongst the crowd, each with a microphone, quickly taking it in turns to say a word each, attempting to build up coherent sentences but with no predetermined subject.

Explaining the context and my enthusiasm in an email, two days before the performance, I approached five artists to be that other person. Each of these artists had different different practices but elements of which I thought would be appropriate to the context and the attempt. Crucially, they were also artists whom I knew socially but not very well, so the work would have begin to bridge that gap, the trust and risk involved, as well as the difference between our practices.

Of the five, one was very reluctant, two had prior commitments but expressed an interest in future collaboration, one didn't reply and one - Duncan Mcafee - was keen, changing his schedule to take part.


A live recording of this attempt will be here to download soon.