Site-specific, outdoors arts, whatever you call it, we’ve been doing it since the beginning. We’re experts at making things happen in unusual places, with all kinds of communities and not just the usual suspects. We cut our teeth building multidisciplinary venues at festivals like Glastonbury and the Forest Fayres for a few years – which was great learning for making site-specific performances happen – if you can start with a patch of grass and end up with a 500 capacity multi-use venue with sculptural furniture and installations a couple of days later, there’s not much you can’t do – especially as our budgets would generally be around the 200 quid mark. Here’s a selection of just some of the projects we’ve created or produced over the last 25 years or so, we will be updating with media as and when we unearth or digitise it, watch this space.
- Everything Must Go 2018 – three years of research and embedding ourselves into the ‘hidden in plan sight’ communities using the old Birmingham Wholesale Market site led us to creating this site-specific performance/exhibition which well crossed the boundaries between genres. Over 60 cast and crew brought to life the empty 30 acre site with ambisonic soundtracks, film projection, photography, a live, specially composed score and huge installations and sculpture, paying homage and saying goodbye to a unique place, the birthplace of the city, before it is replaced with whatever spreadsheet architecture the developers dump on us.
- Reality Estate 2007 – a score by Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven was sung to the residents of ‘Red Brick’ estate in Five Ways, by a choir of 300, in and around the estate, accompanied by performances and installations inhabited and co-created with local people. Dramaturge Mark Storor helped to create an incredibly special event- one of the people who we’d got some support from said afterwards that she was so in it, she forgot she’d help fund it, which was assessment enough.
- Nowhere’s Like This 1998 – we took over Gas Street Basin, just prior to development (seeing a theme yet?) for this performance. Around 75 artists and performers in a series of performative installations charting the past, present and possible future of this historic site. Looking at it 20 or so years later we were bang on with the blandification of culture that that end of Broad Street has suffered. The performance ended with a projection of a canal boat on the tunnel under Broad Street, through which a real boat burst, covered with mirrors, reflecting the audience back at themselves. Nobody died, in fact we have never had so much as an injury that required hospitalisation in any of our site-specifics, this was also the last outdoor performance we did where it rained, something’s been looking after us since then.
- View Palindromic 1996?ish – The show was performed at the Bond, we firstly corralled people off into sex-segregated spaces, then locked them in the back of a big van in the dark with discordant sound playing, drove them round and round for a bit, before depositing them where they started. They then walked around (a bit wobbly) 8, 8′ steel installations, containing anything from a coracle covered in tar, filled with latex ‘foetus skins’ to a madman ranting the words of Dr Jonathan Miller. There was also a live ‘shooting’ (complete with exploding blood bags) featuring a gun we’d borrowed from the Police Museum (different times). It was all about comparing the journey of the combined egg and sperm through the body to birth, with the Odyssey, or something.