Artist in Residence - Martin O'Brien - Illness & The Enduring Body Symposium June 2012 


Martin O'Brien

was Artist in Residence at ]performance s p a c e [ between January and June 2012. Martin used the residency period to realise the project Regimes of Hardship: Illness & The Enduring Body.


To conclude his residency Martin curated a one-day symposium addressing issues surrounding Illness and the enduring body within performance. The Symposium consisted of 3 panels of speakers followed by a final open discussion. Contributors included artists & academics from performance, sociology and medical science. The symposium considered ways in which the body has been conceived and represented within both art and medicine. Offering various perspectives on the ways in which the medicalised body and bio-scientific practices have been appropriated within performance, physical endurance and pain within art and medicine, and ethics and the human body. The speakers addressed the limits of human corporeality and how artists have worked with their own biological matter, placing their bodies under duress, in order to communicate and in doing so have challenged contemporary ideologies around the body. Illness & The Enduring Body payed particular attention to the ways in which artists have engaged with issues around medicine, illness and the enduring body.



The symposium was a new collaboration, aimed at developing and sustaining connections between ]performance s p a c e [ and new Live Art audiences. Through out the symposium, social media tracked dialogue as it developed in real time, allowing access to regional and international online audiences.


The audio recording of Martin O'Brien's dialogue with Dr. Karen Lowton (part of the 3rd panel) is available below. Video of the symposium is available to view at ]performance s p a c e [ in our archive or on DVD on request (please contact Due to the size of the video files we are still working to make them accesible online - please see below.

Panel 1: Dr Gianna Bouchard (Principal lecturer in performance at Anglia Ruskin), Dr Sarah Wilson, Dani Ploeger (studio artist at ]performance s p a c e[ & Lecturer in Theatre and Digital Arts at Brunel University London)


Panel 2: Lois Keidan (Director Live Art Development Agency), Sheree Rose, Ron Athey, Franko B


Panel 3:Martin O'Brien & Dr. Karen Lowton (Medical sociologist senior lecturer King's College London), Rita Marcalo & Georgia Testa (Bio-Ethicist, University of Leeds), Michael Mayhew & Tuheen Huda


Martin O’Brien’s practice revolves around physical endurance and excess in relation to the fact he suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. His most recent performance, Mucus Factory, was commissioned by the Live Art Development Agency. Documentation of his work will be featured in a new publication on Live Art and disability and in a special edition of Contemporary Theatre Review on Live Art in the UK. He has performed in Britain, Poland, Spain and Germany. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Reading.