André Stitt: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 10 Dec 2009 – 23 Jan 2010
André Stitt was commissioned by Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown to produce a new body of work ’Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’ in which he uses painting and text to recall his formative experiences and applies these experiences in a response to the Craigavon area.
Stitt carried out a series of site visits and explorations, building up a psychogeograhic experience of Craigavon and applied this to the wider context of trauma and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. The exhibition is the culmination of a site-specific exploration investigating memory and the interrogation of space as a primary vehicle for tracing its repression and recovery.
He says: ‘In many ways my response to Craigavon has been a journey back into my own past, trying to make sense of what the place, and by extension, Northern Ireland means to me today. In the process I have inevitably confronted some difficult memories, truths, and experiences within myself. And, like the residues of conflict that saturate Northern Ireland, I felt that there was no going forward without going back and confronting the past of my own almost place, the place I almost belong.’
Stitt’s approach to the new work emanates from the perspective of his experience as a performance artist, the artist is identified with a strain of performance known as ‘akshun’ encompassing visual art and art action. His work focuses on difficult and traumatic themes; issues of oppression, freedom, coercion, subversion, experiences of alienation, appropriation of cultures, globalisation and communal conflict. His work physically and emotionally embodies the divisive forces of capitalism and materialist addiction, processes of building and disintegration and the resulting journey toward redemption.
Layering, erasure and ‘scouring’ techniques that have been used in the creation of the work consider the performance of painting as the physical manifestation of the post-colonial condition.
Born in Belfast, Stitt is considered one of Europe's foremost performance and interdisciplinary artists. He has worked as an experimental artist since 1976 creating hundreds of unique works at major galleries, festivals, alternative venues and sites specific throughout the world including the Venice Biennale 2005, The Drawing Centre, New York, 2006 and Artspace, Sydney 2007. His artistic output includes performance art, painting, drawing, installation, digital print, video, photography, and relational activity. He also produces music and tours with his band The Panacea Society.
Stitt's uncompromising style has been variously described as "..enigmatic and corruptive ... unmissible" [Time Out, London] "..fierce integrity, immediate, spontaneous, releasing" [High Performance, USA] - Performance Magazine [UK] has described him as "..perhaps our shaman who is prepared to explore what Most of us would not care to be let alone try to express" “..the nearest thing Britain has to a genuine indigenous cult performer." – “Art’s best kept secret and last live wire” [ND Magazine, USA]. There are several books published about his life and work.
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is an 80 page, full colour, hardback catalogue, published 2009 with introduction, 'Hermetic Traces of Place' by Megan Johnston and essay 'Nowhere Between Then And Now' by Dr. Justin McKeown'.