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  • Chloe Austin

MFA Takeover at The MAC

Our MFA course devised a series of events and live performances at The MAC. Belfast School of Art MFA students responded to the current exhibition at the time, On Refusal: Representation & Resistance in Contemporary American Art. This was an amazing opportunity for us and we gained experience within working within this exciting gallery environment.

This series of lunchtime events will take place across the MAC’s galleries and public spaces, showcasing new work by current final year students of the Masters of Fine Art course at Belfast School of Art, Ulster University. In response to the MAC’s current exhibition On Refusal: Representation & Resistance in Contemporary American Art, the MFA students will programme a series of events and performances using their own practices to draw attention to the exhibition content and to the act of resistance in their local contexts.


Monday 13 January

Chloe Austin: Cut Up Workshop/Languages of Refusal

Common Room, 3rd floor

Drawing inspiration from the current exhibition, this workshop will look at the language of refusal. Giving each participant a collection of words associated with the show, along with markers, glue and a blank card, they will create their own cup-up poems in response to the exhibition, resulting in a type of Dada-style poetry. The cut-up poems will be photographed (with consent of the participant) and combined into a video piece by the artist. This creative workshop will gather a collection of texts that convey a personal and poetic response to the On Refusal exhibition.

More amazing events followed by my fellow students of the MFA course:

Tuesday 14 January

John Connolly: The Innerview Off Campus

Second Floor Resource Area

John Connolly will present a video entitled “The Innerview Off Campus”, which consists of an interview-style conversation between John and a friend talking about American author and school teacher John Taylor Gatto, who wrote several books on modern education, criticizing its ideology, history, and consequences. This video will be followed by an extract of a YouTube video of Gatto himself talking about his life’s work on education reform.

Wednesday 15 January

Upper Gallery, 4th floor

Vasiliki Stasinaki: Dance Response

This performance in our Upper Gallery draws on the dancing body as an act of resistance and notions of embodiment. Vasiliki will come together with a number of dancers to experiment live with improvisation on a score based on the three artistic strategies explored in the exhibition: Opacity, Liquidity, Rupture. This improvisation piece will be rooted and based on the principals of the improvisation sessions of Judson Dance Theatre.

Sinead O Neill-Nicholl and Dominic McKeown: Performance

Dominic McKeown and Sinead O'Neill-Nicholl will carry out a joint performative action in the small space at the rear of the Upper Gallery. The action will consist of both parties sewing fabric together. The action has been influenced by the references to fabric, both subtle and apparent, within several elements of the current exhibition. Particularly the work of Troy Michie has inspired the artists to examine the association between clothing and identity and to challenge gendered notions of fabric.

Friday 17 January

Stephanie Tanney: Spoken word and live performance

In reference to Sable Elyse Smith’s works in the MAC’s current exhibition, Stephanie will perform a spoken word piece touching on the effects of the prison system on the wider US society and culture. She will recite this text whilst carrying out gestures of making or unmaking.

Nollaig Molloy: HIVE Choir Performance

Through her collaborative practice, Nollaig has invited HIVE Choir to respond to On Refusal. Nollaig collaborated with HIVE Choir in 2019 for her 1st year MFA show ‘Normal Position, Show Position’ in Platform Arts Belfast. Now a member of the vocal ensemble, she has approached the choir to use the voice as a medium for resistance. The choir will use the text-based artwork and outcomes of the exhibition as a starting point. Their voices will fill the gallery space and draw focus to the nuances or elaborate possibilities of improvised vocals, which can resist conventional uses.

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