Casual Cult CreationMarch 2020
Casual Cult Creation centres on three new video pieces from Durkan's ongoing archive of live action roleplay projects. Each piece explores a specific engagement between Durkan, his collaborators and a roleplaying context, in this case, in Belarus, Denmark and Ireland.
Casual Cult Creation belies the flippancy it's title might suggest and instead approaches the cultural practice of live action roleplay as a potential point of politico-spiritual rendezvous. The three videos highlight collective and personal roleplay strategies utilised as a means of exploring consensual narrative and a way of disengaging from reality-bias and temporarily bypassing oppressive structures of narrative control. Each piece can be considered material output from recent live action roleplay projects but are not intended to be viewed as documentation or as a direct representation of the initial experience but as a new configuration “birthed” in a very specific arena.
Developed from a collaboration with Minsk's live action roleplay community during a residency in the Zair Azgur Museum, “Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in” is a video piece that emerged from a series of roleplayed events questioning identity and gender and conducted under the watchful gaze of the Azgur Museum's towering scultptures of Lenin, Stalin and Marx. “ALIBI” is the second video piece and centres on a series of interviews, both in and out of charcater, with participants of a live action roleplay experience that happened in Dublin Castle and Project Arts Centre in Ireland. Participants utilised a design-fiction process to collectively shape the issues of their fictional near-future, before partying the night away as a character to the fictional backdrop of a housing crisis, a climate catastrophe and designer dream drugs. The final video, “Casual Cult Creation”, is a video piece that takes the same name as the title of the exhibition and diagetically documents a live action roleplay that explores the increasing fetishization of cult aesthetics and the mysterious emergence of a gnostic cult in Denmark.
Mark Durkan is an artist with a mobile practice that traverses Europe. His work involves creating temporary active communities that are collaborative and context led. Drawing from socially performed reality-building events like mid-century psychodrama, nordic live action roleplay and 21st century crisis simulation, Durkan's current work explores the experiential potential of co-created fictional realities. Engaging with the architectural presence of a space and the people that embody it, he transposes identity with alibi to explore a joint idiom of value and threat. Mark Durkan has led projects and exhibited extensively, including in Project Arts Centre, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin Castle and the City Gallery Hugh Lane in Dublin, ZhdK in Zurich, Zair Azgur Museum in Minsk, The Museum of Moving Image in New York, Via Farini in Milan, 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo and German Chancellery in Berlin.