Secrets of a Strange Art
by Sian Ni Mhuiri and The Hungry Men
A sensitively nuanced performance culminating in an act of live tattooing by a group of twenty-something-year-olds who, after experiences of freedom, university, experimentation and creativity in London, find themselves facing an uncertain world on the cusp of an adolescent/adult transition.
Secrets employs original texts, movement, music and projections to explore the conflicting feelings of love, loneliness and displacement experienced in the sprawling city ofLondon. It pieces together what is left when education and the city strip confidence and shatter ideals and asks if a communal act of tattooing can banish loss and fragility, renew feelings of friendship and keep our memories alive through the process of tattooing.
Lead artist, director and performer: Sian Ni Mhuiri
The Hungry Men co-devisers and performers: James Cawson, Rachel Good, John East, Peter Reed and Jemima Yong.
Premiere: March 2011, Webber Douglas Studio, Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK
April 2011, SCRIT, ArtsAdmin, London, UK
July 2011, Flare Festival, Manchester, UK
"After a brief warning about a lack of lighting and some potentially gory, live tattooing content, Sian Ní Mhuirí and the Hungry Men, cordially welcome the spectators into their space. “Shall we begin?” she rhythmically asks both her friends and her audience. Over the next hour they will witness a deeply personal insight into friendships, memories and the bonds between people as both personal and shared entities, all culminating (of course) in a DIY tattooing session carried out between a group of friends before a crowd of onlookers. The sharing of space in the piece between performer and spectator feels somehow crucial from the start. The spectator almost becomes a participant, through a seemingly relaxed, comfortable and familiar approach that the company bring to their work. This atmosphere that they create is important as it steers the audience away from merely becoming voyeuristic watchers with a bloodlust for a gory spectacle; often a concern when live art is preceded with a warning for the squeamish.
Through well choreographed ritualistic imagery and movement, a deep exploration of the expression/art of tattooing, and a touching depiction of personal journeys and friendships, Sian Ní Mhuirí and the Hungry Men have created a piece that has undoubtedly left its mark."
an extract from a review written by Nick Birchill