Three Games for Grass: Hay Bale Circuiting, Grass Bucket Head Crawl and Bale Bouldering
Short videos screening as part of Alive & Kicking, Live Art Ireland, Saturday 9th December
While on the ‘grass’ residency in October 2023, I worked in the fields near Milford House, responding to the place, to the evidence of farming, to processes and materials used in the growth, harvesting, and storage of grass. Playing with buckets, fertilizer bags, hay and silage bales, I considered the grass as a crop, as fodder and as having economic value in the production of milk or beef. Close to the ground, walking through the fields each day, I was aware of plants as indicators of environmental damage, of ecological disruption, as impacted by human activity. The playing began to take shape as a set of new games or sports, drawing on the tradition of local sports in rural Ireland, from parish-level GAA to the Community Games to school sports days. There is also a sense of gamification expanding into all areas of life, the continued prioritising of growth models along with notions of progress, despite compelling evidence of climate crisis and environmental breakdown. The performer-player embodies an intersection of sport and agriculture, weaving his way among the abandoned hay bales, manoeuvring a bucket across a field, wrestling with plastic-wrapped silage bales. What is winning in these systems? How are conditions on the ground? Where is the benefit when the scores are totted up?
On the ‘grass’ residency at Live Art Ireland, Milford House, Tipperary. A still from a short test video, me with a bucket in the grass.
For the past week I have been trying out some moving, acting, sounding, and voicing. Working with props that connect to grass as part of the dairy industry, as a crop and as fodder and as having economic value within the production of milk. Also working with an awareness of plants as indicators of environmental damage, of ecological disruption, as impacted by human activity. I have used tasks as ways of developing movement, of generating sounds, of prompting actions, and of allowing focus to shift to doing in the moment. The grass rustles, the plastic sack crackles, the bucket clunks and rattles. Out in the front field at Milford House, I hear the busy road, I see various agricultural projects in the fields around me, I feel the grass wet, prickly, rough, soft, I smell the soil and in among the stems I see that activity of invertebrates, insects, spiders, worms carries on regardless of my daft action above them.
The video is up on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/872367421?share=copy