It Was 40 Years Ago Today

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A research project devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Performance Art in Wales.

Prosiect ymchwil i ddadorchuddio ac archifo hanes Celf Perfformio yng Nghymru.

Winner of the David Bradby TaPRA Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance 2011.

If you have any information on performance in Wales that could be of use to the project, please get in touch!

Whether you are an artist who has made performance work in Wales, or an audience member who once witnessed a performance (voluntarily or involuntarily!), we would be pleased to hear from you.
Any material will be of interest - from actual pieces of documentation to vague memories of events caught out of the corner of one's eye.
mail@performance-wales.org

Cysylltwch â ni os oes gennych unrhyw wybodaeth am berfformio yng Nghymru a allai fod o ddefnydd i'r prosiect!

Efallai eich bod yn artist sydd wedi gwneud gwaith perfformio yng Nghymru, neu'n aelod o gynulleidfa a welodd berfformiad unwaith (o'ch gwirfodd neu'n anwirfoddol!). Pwy bynnag ydych chi, hoffem glywed gennych.
Bydd unrhyw ddeunydd o ddiddordeb - o ddogfennau gwreiddiol i atgofion amwys am ddigwyddiadau a welwyd o gornel y llygad.
Mae'r manylion cyswllt wedi'u rhestru dan 'Cyswllt' yma, neu gallwch anfon e-bost i'r cyfeiriad hwn: mail@performance-wales.org

Project Director Cyfarwyddwr Prosiect: Heike Roms
Dept Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol

Contact: Professor Heike Roms
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol
Aberystwyth University
Adeilad Parry-Williams Building
Aberystwyth SY23 3AJ,
UK phone ffon: (+44) 1970 - 621911 (direct uniongyrchol) mail@performance-wales.org

Funded by Wedi ei drawsgronni gan:
ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL (AHRC) (2009-2011)
(CYNGOR YMCHWIL Y CELFYDDYDAU A’R DYNIAETHAU) (2009-2011)
ARTS COUNCIL OF WALES (ACW) (2006-2008)
CYNGOR CELFYDDYDAU CYMRU (CCC) (2006-2008)
SIR DAVID HUGHES PARRY AWARD 2006, 2008
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUND (2007)

AHRC logo and link to website

Aberystwyth University Logo and link to website

Arts Council Wales logo and link to website

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Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved
Hawlfraint © 2011 Cedwir pob hawl

What's Welsh for Performance? Beth yw 'performance' yn Gymraeg?

:15 events from 15 years: 1970

:1965 :1966 :1967 :1968 :1969 :1970 :1971 :1972 :1973 :1974 :1975 :1976 :1977 :1978 :1979

      

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Ian Breakwell; Mike Leggett (photographer/ film); performers: Mandy Nichols [or Mandy Nicholls], Mike Harvey, Ian Breakwell

Unword 4

30 January 1970

Swansea: Debates Chamber, Union House

University College of Swansea Arts Festival

[Photo: © Ian Breakwell estate and Mike Leggett; Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute Archive) [no reproduction without prior permission by copyright holders]

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The audience then passed through to the performance area to find it filled with seemingly impenetrable sheets of paper stretching from ceiling to floor (15ft high) and covered with words (random extracts from Ian Breakwell's prose texts.)

Two films were projected onto the front wall of words. The first film lasted three minutes and was called 'Language Lesson'; the second film, also lasting three minutes was called 'Bio-Mechanic Man'. A third film was then projected onto the sheets of words, a film demonstrating how to shear sheep; simultaneously a tape-recording of eye-sight test dialogue began to play. Both tape and film continued throughout the subsequent action.During the subsequent action a film of an aero-engine destroying itself was run continuously onto a side wall in forward then in reverse, and gradually the film itself was physically destroyed by the projectionist.

Five minutes after the beginning of the tape and film, Breakwell appeared from out of the forest of words and slowly began to bite at the sheets and to tear down the sheets of words with his teeth. As he tore down a layer of words another would be revealed, until eventually he reached the back wall of the room, and the removal of the last sheets of words revealed a seated girl, her body completely enclosed in a white straight-jacket. On the front of the straight-jacket were stapled a dress, stockings and shoes in the appropriate places; a hat was on her head. Her face remained expressionless.

The projected film-image, which had inevitably increased in size as each layer of word-sheets was removed, now covered the area of the back wall which included the seated girl.Breakwell pulled off the clothes which were fastened to the girl’s straight-jacket. He nailed the clothes and hat in the outline of a figure onto the wall beside the seated girl. He then took the torn sheets of words which covered the floor and stapled them to each other and to the girl’s straight-jacket until the girl and the floor area were covered with words in a kind of robe which stretched to the feet of the audience.Breakwell exited and John Hillard entered wearing a polythene suit and carrying a crop-sprayer filled with black paint on his back; he sprayed the complete word-robe. (Edited version of a text written by Ian Breakwell in the Papers and photographs relating to Ian Breakwell and Mike Leggett's UNWORD, Acc. No. 2004.455, Leeds Museum & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute Archive)[...])

[...] The filming of UNWORD however was not merely to document the performances. Leggett was observed by the audience as an implicit performer who was free to move at will and film wherever and whatever he wished. The subsequently processed film footage became part of the multi-projection elements of the next UNWORD performance, which was also filmed, processed, and then projected in the next performance.

(Worsley, Victoria. Ian Breakwell's Unword, 1969–70: Early Performance Art in Britain. Essays on Sculpture 52. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2006.)

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For more information on the event and on its available documentation search our database.