MARTIN O’BRIEN

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Martin’s work considers existence with a severe chronic illness within our contemporary situation. Martin suffers from cystic fibrosis and his practice uses physical endurance, hardship and pain based practices to challenge common representations of illness and examine what it means to be born with a life threatening disease. His work is an act of resistance to illness, an attempt at claiming agency and a celebration of his body. Martin loves his body and his work is a form of sufferance in order to survive.

Martin has been commissioned and funded by the Live Art Development Agency, Arts Council England, Arts Catalyst, Midlands Art Centre, and the British Council. He has presented work in Britain and abroad including SPILL Festival of Performance (London), Chelsea Theatre, Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana), In Between Time Festival of Performance (Bristol), Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff), Grace Exhibition Space (New York), Abrons Art Center (New York), Gallery Art Claims Impulse (Berlin), Edinburgh Festival, The Basement (Brighton), LAX Studio (Los Angeles), Midlands Art Centre (Birmingham). He was artist in residence at ]performance s p a c e[, London from January- June 2012 and has often collaborated with the legendary performance artist Sheree Rose. He was artist in residence at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, LA, in 2015. He curated the ground breaking symposium ‘Illness and the Enduring Body’ in 2012. Martin received a PhD from the University of Reading and his work has received critical attention in publications such as Contemporary Theatre Review and the book ‘Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability’. He co-edited, with Gianna Bouchard, a new edition of the journal Performance Research ‘On Medicine’ and is a visiting lecturer at several UK Universities.

Martin is a recipient of the 2014-2015 Artsadmin Bursary. The scheme supports artistic experiment, risk, speculation and play, rather than the production or touring of finished work. It offers time to explore processes and try out new ideas within a framework of constructive and critical dialogue. Artsadmin’s intention is to offer timely support to artists who would value a period to delve into the new, without pressure to produce a final result. The bursary is not a commission or production grant but a package of support oriented towards research and process that can be used flexibly according to each artist’s needs. Martin is using the bursary to create a major new project.

Artist website