Notes towards an Aftermath


In Calais, they keep their mannequins in Perspex boxes and they furnish them with the same, feline faces, the same painted eyelashes, the same rose-kissed lips, the same jaunty hips, the same moulded hands raised slightly as if they might greet you with their drawn-on fingers …

Notes towards ‘Aftermath’, developed for the Day of the Dead, Rich Mix, 31st October 2014

A rediscovery - Miraculous Continuum

I recently rediscovered “Miraculous Continuum”, while googling the equally miraculous Johanna Linsley


Can you provide me with a set of three* miraculous sentences?


The miraculous is pithy. And comes in threes.

Miraculous Continuum contributors: Mary Paterson, Rachel Lois Clapham, Eleanor Weber, Tamarin Norwood, Maria Goyanes, Ryan Ormonde, Yoko Ishiguro, Alex Eisenberg, Eirini Poulaki, Nora Rabins, Marcus Slease, João Florêncio, Jennifer Tsuei, Alex Davies, Elizabeth Guthrie, Nat Raha, Ali Mansour, Julia Rios, Tim Jeeves, Theron Schmidt
Compiled and edited: Johanna Linsley; Painting: Olga Raciborska; Layout: Jan Mertens

TALKS at CCLAAP (Cross Cultural Live Art Project)

CCLAP brings together Southeast Asian and UK/European artists for a 2-day symposium, showcasing performances, talks and a screening programme exploring gendered/feminist notions of “rites”. Presented in partnership with SEA ArtsFest 2014.

[I have been invited to talk about two projects - Mary]

Friday, 31st October 2014

[On Friday, I will be talking about SO and our latest commission for the imaginary archive]

Saturday, 1st November 2014

[On Saturday, I will be performing NOTA with Open Dialogues]

The Proud Archivist
2-10 Hertford Road
London N1 5SH

Free entry, book your place here:

Calais, 19th August 2014




"Tell me what you forget, and I will tell you who you are"

Marc Auge Oblivion (Minneapolis, 2004), p. 18

Lying Fallow

Why do you care about this?

For all or any of these reasons, in no particular order:

There is a difference between the ways in which society defines its values in thought and in action.  There is, for example, a deep hypocrisy in the divide between the theories that surround publicly-funded artistic practice and the actual structures and institutions that claim to support this practice.  There is a similar hypocrisy snaking through the structures and institutions of politics, law and the media. I hope Lying Fallow will be an opportunity to think about different kinds of social organization.

The last time I stayed up all night talking with a stranger was in 2010.

Whenever I have the opportunity to concentrate on listening, I am surprised at what I discover. 

Have you ever seen a fox run across thirty acres of freshly fallen snow?

I would like to explore types of social organization that are based on the principle of individuals listening to individuals, and that take into account the complexities and contradictions of individual lives.

Sometimes I feel trapped inside a world of production and showing off. Produce. Network. Produce. Network. Are you trending? Are you liked? Are you worth it? Are you available at short notice and for a nominal fee? Can you grasp this opportunity? Can you tell me about it in 30 seconds? Are you busy? Are you terribly busy? Have you Tweeted about it?

I think that finding ways to communicate with people outside the manifestations of dominant cultural values is one of the occupations of art. By the manifestations of dominant cultural values I mean the stories that are told to justify and explain the passing of time in public discourse, including market-driven usefulness, individual branding, profit, novelty and the ostentatious production of meaning.  

It is an ambition of mine to stop using the word ‘I’ so frequently.

I wonder if it is possible to redefine ‘professionalism’ in order to include the complexities and contradictions of individual lives.

One definition of sanity could be the ability to understand two or more opposing thoughts to be true at the same time.  In this context, ‘time’ is what makes the impossible possible.  

I have no idea what will happen with Lying Fallow.

It is an ambition of mine to spend time by wasting it frivolously.

I think about Lying Fallow as an artwork and as part of my artistic practice, which is concerned with meaning, communication and social organization.     

This morning my one year old son spent twenty minutes carefully and delicately emptying my wallet and placing all of its contents, receipt by receipt, penny by penny, outside the window.

It is difficult and important to do things that have an unknown outcome.

Have you ever seen a double rainbow in an indigo sky, heavy with rain?

I have more books and bookmarked web pages than I have time in my life to read them.  I have more ambition than I have talent.  My eyes are bigger than my intellect. 

I’m not sure I believe in knowledge anymore.  Not in the acquisitional sense, anyway.  I don’t know anything.  I circle things.  Return to them.  Find out later what they might have meant.  Change my mind. 

A few years ago I sat in a bookshop and asked people for their questions.  One of them was, “Will I ever have enough time in my life to read all the books I want to read and listen to all the music I want to listen to?”

I wonder if I there is enough time to understand the complexities and contradictions of any individual life, even your own, or if the occasional glimpse is the best we can hope for.

It is an ambition of mine to use the word ‘we’ more often, but without sounding pompous.

I think that glimpsing into other people’s lives is one of the occupations of art.  It is a type of recognition that also recognizes the unseen.

I have not found a way of communicating that does not presuppose knowledge or destroy meaning. But I  am ambitious.

I like to think of ‘we’ as a contingent and temporary state of being, and a request for somebody else to hold my hand.

Lying Fallow is a project for Rajni Shah Projects, led by  Mary Paterson, Rajni Shah, Susan Sheddan, Tiffany Charrington, and Mark Trezona (facilitator).  It will take place over seven months, over three meetings.  

For more information and to take part, please visit this page:

SOMETHING OTHER - live art, memory and the digital


Announcing the launch of SOMETHING OTHER: a 12 month research project that explores how live art is remembered, translated and communicated online. 

How we whisper about art work is the art work.

How we frame, discuss, replicate, reproduce, think about, reject, copy or argue against the art work constitutes one of theffects of the art work in the world. This is how art and ideas multiply, how they continue to live in, influence and be changed by other dimensions of experience. This is how art harnesses meaning, gathers momentum and unleashes its potential into the world.

SO is a collaboration between artists, writers and technologists. 

It is structured through collaborative commissions, live events, and a curated website:

For more information, please contact

Lead artist: Mary Paterson /Associate artist: Maddy Costa /Creative Technologist: Ross Mille

SO is supported by Arts Council, England

Non-Paper on the Performance Writing Network

with Nathan Jones for Writing PAD,id=2695/

Given that you and I can never share our knowledge, can we share meaning? Is that what we’re doing, or are we using each other’s meaning as leaping off points towards things we already know?

Can we share a series of misunderstandings? Is that what we’re doing, or are we suturing over our misunderstandings as if the performance of a network is coherence enough?

Do you write in order to remember or do you write in order to change?

BRISE Performance Art Festival: Generating Knowledge in Performance Art

BRISE Performance Art Festival: Generating Knowledge in Performance Art

Critics and Cocktails

Interdisciplinary, strategic, embodied, experimental, highly subjective or otherwise undefined. These words could equally be used to describe the practices of Live Art and Art Writing, two distinct artistic discourses which nevertheless have a significant area of crossover. If Live Art approaches performance from a vantage point of visual art (and vice versa), then Art Writing approaches text with a toolbox derived from visual and conceptual practices. If Live Art breaches, fertilises and interweaves other disciplines of knowledge production, then Art Writing does the same. And if Live Art imagines an engaged, embodied spectator, then Art Writingsuggests a practice of active readership imbued with potential, criticality and the possibility of change.

It is this approach to subjectivity (as applied to the artist/ author, as well as the viewer/ reader) that makes both practices urgent, relevant and increasingly widespread. Both Live Art and Art Writing engage and produce subjects ‘to be’ rather than ‘to do’ in the presence of the work, inviting a response-ability that sustains the links between art and experience, theory and practice, fact and fiction. As such, they are a prototype and a simulacrum of contemporary subjectivity, and the best place to start to explore a modern discursive sphere.

Critics and Cocktails is a three-day symposium on the intersection between Live Art, Art Writing and the discursive sphere: why, how and to whom do we communicate in relation to art? It aims to use embodied, experimental and critical practices of writing and thinking to investigate the contexts of Live Art, its documents and associated forms of dialogue. It aims to be rigorous, porous and meaningful. It aims to be inclusive, highly subjective and experimental. It aims to produce speculation, doubt and problems. It aims to take place through conversation, workshops and social spaces. It aims to mix approaches, disciplines and ideas. It aims to make you giddy, drunk and in the mood to do things you might regret later.

With: Johanna Linsley, Alex Eisenberg, Diana Damian and Maddy Costa and Rachel Lois Clapham from the UK and Ida Marie Hede Bertelsen and Katrine Dirckninck-Holmfeldfra DK.

Co-organised by Mary Paterson and Live Art DK


here: lies

i am familiar with litter boxes * i am familiar with bags of sand that keep trees still * i am familiar with lines and the edgelands of things * i am not familiar with strange moves * i am familiar with chandeliers in cages * i am familiar with bells that tell you when the time is up * i am familiar with your beautiful hands * i am not familiar with strange moves * i am familiar with signs in more languages than I understand * I am familiar with sounds that have no direction * i am familiar with objects that are made from moulded metal * i am not familiar with strange moves 

Taking Writing for a Walk, final workshop  11/06/2014, Superkilen 

A blank page gets blanker over time


This may  not be relevant, but perhaps robots carry a version of the souls of their programmers.  And perhaps they carry a version of the soul of the person who is communicating with them.  In the end, does it matter if a robot has a soul?  Isn’t it more important how you feel about the robot, then whether the robot feels at all?

A blank page gets blanker over time”, durational response to ‘It’s About Time’ at Danse Hallern, 31st May 2014.  

Mount London: Ascents in the Vertical City

Mount London:
Ascents in the Vertical City

My essay on Denmark Hill is included in this new collection from Penned in the Margins.  

"This is the surprise of south-east London: it offers a view back to the city. In an area networked by trains that don’t run on Sundays and buses that crawl interminably up the Walworth Road,the panorama from Denmark Hill throbs with a reminder of what lies beyond reach. Colonised by the sprawling suburbs a century ago, the territory you are walking through now is a plantation of domestic architecture, fringed with a view. If you squint you can almost see a procession of sepia housewives pushing their prams up the hill, towards the smell of carbolic acid."   

From the publishers:

Forget the skyscrapers: an invisible mountain is rising above the streets of the capital - and at over 1,800 metres, it is Britain’s highest peak.

This ingenious new book is an account of the ascent of ‘Mount London’ by a team of writers, poets and urban cartographers, each scaling a lesser hill within the city - from Stamford Hill (36m) to Crystal Palace (112m). Ascents of natural peaks are offset by the search for ‘ghost hills’ in the back streets, a descent into the deepest part of the Tube, and expeditions to the city’s artificial mountains - The Shard (306m), the chimneys of Battersea Power Station (103m).

Helen Mort (Division Street) goes cross-country running up Parliament Hill, Joe Dunthorne(Submarine) tackles Europe’s tallest building as a metaphor for gentrification, and Justin Hopper (Old, Weird Albion) discovers Doctor Who at the summit of Horsenden Hill. Many of the expeditions in this book reveal mountainous follies, their rubble strewn across the city from Northala Fields to Stave Hill to the ruins of the Crystal Palace. Ghosts of the city emerge from the pages: John Bunyan; the Sydenham Hill Giant; Margaret Finch, Queen of the Gypsies. From the folly of man to reach ever higher, to the effort of the climb, Mount Londonexplores not only the physical topography, but also the psychological experience of urban hill walking.


Matt D. Brown, Sarah Butler, Tom Chivers, Liz Cookman, David Cooper, Tim Cresswell, Alan Cunningham, Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams, Katy Evans-Bush, SJ Fowler, Bradley L. Garrett, Edmund Hardy, Justin Hopper, Martin Kratz, Amber Massie-Blomfield, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Helen Mort, Mary Paterson, Gareth E. Rees, Gemma Seltzer, Chrissy Williams, Tamar Yoseloff.

Order Mount London here



Intimate Nature / Photo: Gianmarco Bresadola
31.05.2014 / Dansehallerne / Copenhagen
In May 2014 Dansehallerne presents an extended round of our popular platform Thousand Threads with experimental and innovative works plus events, artisttalks and dancefilm.
It’s About Time is a day-long event, featuring:
  • QUARTO (SE/BR) /  BEAUTY of ACCIDENT - Durational Rope (5 hours)
  • SAMTALEKØKKENET (Conversation Kitchen) (DK) (all day)


Samtalekøkkenet is open during the whole day of IT´S ABOUT TIME. Hosts are: Mary Paterson (UK), Henrik andEllen Vestergaard Friis. The audience is invited for DIY salatbar, wine and conversation in a relaxed environment, before, after and simultaneously with the performances. The day ends at 9 p.m. with a common dinner.

more information: