Block Universe wants to challenge preconceptions about performance art

Blushing Valley, Gery Georgieva

Blushing Valley, Gery Georgieva - Credit: Gery Georgieva

Block Universe - an international performance art festival taking place in London - is celebrating the artform with an international lineup.

Think performance art and shocking displays of naked people engaging in quirky activities might spring to mind. But Block Universe, a dedicated performance art festival taking place this month, wants to debunk these preconceptions.

Block Universe celebrates the artform with a programme of 18 events that runs from 26 May - 3 June. Performances will take place Hackney venues such as Oval Space and Reliance Square as well as central cultural institutionsincluding Somerset House and the British Museum.

“We’re here to challenge preconceived ideas around what performance art is and who it is for, working with a diverse range of major institutions and unusual locations across the city to bring audiences new experiences and-thought provoking work,” festival director Louise O’Kelly and long-time Hackney resident said.

“The most common misconceptions people have are that it involves nudity or extreme bodily practices, which is aligned with the history of performance art, but not necessarily representative of the type of work being shown today, or the type of work people would expect to find at Block Universe,” she added.

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Among this year’s performance is Gery Georgieva, whose performance will transform Oval Space on 28 May with a multimedia installation that explores the relationship between folk culture and commercialised individualistic empowerment.

Meanwhile, NYC-based choreographer Maria Hassabi will be presenting a live installation at The Store X in central London, where she moved in a brightly patterned outfit across a vivid pink carpet to an ambient soundscape.

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O’Kelly founded Block Universe to support artists working with performance, but soon found she was filling a gap in London’s cultural landscape when she realised there was a real hunger from audiences for this kind of work.

“I personally feel that performance is capable of expressing emotions and ideas that are otherwise hard to articulate, and there is an immediacy to experiencing the work live, that is very different to going to visit an exhibition, or a traditional narrative piece of theatre,” O’Kelly explained.

“I have friends who were not interested at all in performance, and after coming to one of our performances told me that it totally altered their perspective and made them want to see more! So that really reinforces my belief that this type of work truly is something unique and can be very powerful.”

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