AdresseCentre Culturel Irlandais
|Interview with Helena Walsh (2020)
|Valérie MORISSON, Auteur
|Type de document :
|Etudes irlandaises (Vol 45 n 1 Printemps-été 2020)
|Article en page(s) :
Helena Walsh is a live artist from County Kilkenny Ireland. She has been based in London since 2003. Helena works with time, liveness and the materiality of the body; both within constructed installation environments and site-specific spaces. Drawing on her lived and embodied experience through her work Helena seeks to positively violate the systems, borders and rules that construct gender. Her practice explores the relations between gender, national identity and cultural histories.
2She graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design with a BA in Fine Art in 2001 and completed her Master of Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2004. She undertook a practice-based PhD in the Department of Drama, Queen Mary University of London, which she completed in 2013. Over the course of her doctoral research, which examined live art and femininity in an Irish context, Helena made a number of durational live art performances that explored Irish cultural histories. For example, in 2010 she performed Invisible Stains based on the labours, losses and political whitewashing experienced by the women detained in Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries. She devised a site-responsive durational performance entitled Containing Crisis, at Strokestown Park House: The National Famine Museum of Ireland in 2011, which interrogated the continual haunting power of the Famine in relation to the Republic of Ireland’s recent economic collapse. In 2012, Helena co-curated and participated in LABOUR, a touring group durational exhibition that brought together eleven female live artists native to or resident within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Exploring issues of gender and labour in the Irish region, taking into account the relevance of Ireland’s geographic proximity to the United Kingdom, LABOUR toured London, Derry / Londonderry and Dublin.
3Helena has performed widely in galleries, museums, theatres and non-traditional art spaces, including public sites. In 2016, Helena performed in Future Histories at Kilmainham Gaol as part of the Arts Council of Ireland’s 1916 centenary programme. Helena is a founder member of the direct-action feminist performance group Speaking of IMELDA. Between 2013 and the successful referendum to repeal the 8th amendment in the Republic of Ireland on 25th May 2018 that enabled the government to legislate access to abortion, she contributed to the development of the group’s public performances, publications and media campaigns. Alongside her creative and activist work, Helena writes on contemporary performance practice.
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