Kira O’Reilly (UK) Wet Cup


“Scars which stay after that procedure are permanent.”
(Medical Encyclop˛dia)

The body as a performance medium, cutting and injuring the body, and especially bloodletting, as one of the ultimate forms of expression via body, in a more superficial reasoning is considered as a “redemption of all evils on this world”. At first sight this approach may seem convincing, but in concrete situations there are utterly different concepts, reasons and stories that are in the background of the projects of a kind.

Blood - life-giving liquid - has extremely strong impact and thus it presents one of the favourite means of artistic expression in body medium. During the history of performance, the usage of blood has become frequent enough to initiate the invention of a special term for performances the basis of which is releasing blood - “bloodlett-ing”. However, although all artists who perform bloodletting performances release blood, they release it in a special way. Today the bloodletting performances discourse is only partially established, and it differentiates virus-infected blood from blood from the wounds, women blood, which is also differentiated into menstrual blood that implies purgation, non-menstrual, etc.

Kira O’Reilly, an artist that belongs to London “live art” scene, uses in her performances various modes of bloodletting, often with the help of medical instruments: sticking leeches on herself, cutting her body with scalpel or putting on wet cups like in a performance named “Wet Cup”.

A human body is also a cup - a sculpture having its aesthetic dimension whose function is to prevent the life liquid from being spilt. Contact of a medical cup with the membrane of a human cup - skin, makes the body change its dimension and confines. New confines are outlined with the transparent glassy edge that is being filled with blood. And the traces are left on a body - scars from cutting and from cups. Subtle skin opening makes Kira’s vulnerable body a site of blending with the surroundings.

In spite of her usage of medical techniques, Kira O’Reilly is not interested in their healing function because she is not concerned with the ailing body. Medical technique is just an equipment used for opening and cutting the body, and her main concern are implications which come out of cutting the body open. The techniques that she uses are archaic, the ones we see in historical films, but they are strangely contrasted with her body, because Kira’s parti-cular body is from the very first sight a fashionable body, a 21st century body - lank, polished, with silver piercing on her nipples, partly hair-remo-ved, partly not, but designed - juxtaposed to the out of date methods of medical treatment and instruments used for these treatments.

Emphasising at the same time her own being, the existence of a membrane and the existence of the inner body that has patterns, rhythm and poetry of its own - Kira O’Reilly creates sublime and refined “images”, ennobled and charged with strong eroticism. Artist creates “delight by cutting the body open”, a female body into the bargain.

Kira O’Reilly (UK)

Kira O’Reilly is a UK based artist; her practice, both wilfully interdisciplinary and entirely undisciplined, stems from a visual art background; it employs performance, biotechnical practices and writing with which to consider speculative reconfigurations around The Body. Her work has been exhibited widely. She has also presented at conferences and symposia on both live art and science, art and technology interfaces. She has been a visiting lecturer in the UK and Australia and U.S.A.; currently she is a part time lecturer in Media Arts and Performance in University of Wales Institute Cardiff. She is currently developing a new work, falling asleep with a pig, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst, for Interspecies, 2009.