The body as performance medium, the cutting and injuring of the body, especially bloodletting — one of the ultimate forms of expres-sing the body, is considered by superficial reasoning as a way of “redeeming this world of all evil”. At first sight this approach may seem convincing, but more often than not there are utterly different concepts, reasons and stories fueling projects of this kind.
Blood — the life-giving fluid — has an extremely strong impact on the senses and therefore remains one of the favourite means of artistic expression in the body medium. The use of blood in per-formances has become frequent enough for a special term to be coined for them — “bloodletting”. Although all bloodletting artists shed their blood, each of them does it in a different way. A dis-course of bloodletting performances has been partially established, differentiating infected and non-infected blood, blood from wounds, male and female blood (differentiated further as menstrual — implying purgation — and non-menstrual) etc.
Kira O’Reilly, an artist from the London “live art” scene, uses various modes of blood-letting in her performances, often with the help of medical instruments: scalpel, leeches or wet cups from which her eponymous performance took its’ name.
The human body is also a cup — a sculpture having an aesthetic dimension whose function is to contain the fluid of life. The contact of a medical cup with the membrane of a human cup — the skin — makes the body change. New confines are outlined by the trans-parent glassy edge that is being filled with blood. Traces are left on the body — scars from cutting and from the cups. Subtle skin openings makes Kira’s vulnerable body a point of merging with the surroundings.
In spite of her use of medical techniques, Kira O’Reilly is not interested in healing because she is not concerned with an ailing body. Medical techniques are just a method used for opening and cutting the body, her main concern beeing the implications of bloodletting itself. The techniques that she employs are archaic, ones we see only in period movies, and they are in stark contrast with her body. Kira’s particular body is a fashionable one, a 21st century body — slim, polished, with silver piercings on the nipples, hair partly removed — a designed body contrasting the outdated medical methods and instruments used.
Emphasising her own existence, the existence of a membrane and the existence of an inner body possesing patterns, rhythm and poetry of its’ own — Kira O’Reilly creates sublime and refined “images”, ennobled and charged with strong eroticism. The artist creates “delight of cutting the body open”, and a female body at that.