Symbolic reflection on mortality
Live Art for camera
work in progress
Maybe with a little bit of fire, I could shift into the ebb and flow of water and my emotions. To feel. I want to feel.'
Dagmara Bilon Januray 19th 2023
As part of my DYCP arts council grant, I am on a residency at hArtlane Gallery throughout 2023 to develop an embodied somatic visual journal that reflects on my encounters with death as well as the notions of my felt sense following losing my mother Ania. The journal consists of automatic writing, live art interventions, embodied images and outside objects that surround me following my mother's death and are brought together in live art performance to camera.
This residency runs parallel to my study of art history researching images depicting death throughout time and in different cultures, my placement at St John's Hospice and my training to becoming a death doula.
Kindly funded by the arts council england.
After people pass, keep on talking with them. Have a conversation with them and tell them that there are no longer in their body. Help them. Support them in their journey.
3 days after my mother took her last breath, I could feel my body burn and freeze simultaneously. I wanted to find a way to accompany in her journey somehow.
One evening I made 7 masks made of the fabric and branches that I picked up from taking my mother's dog Lilly for a walk while she was still ill. I didn't know then that they will become Pallbearer's mask.
Pallbearers are the people who carry the coffins of the deceased.
I spend one night improvising in front of the camera in my bedroom with each mask. Each mask had a different quality. Something between not being able to move my body to a physical roar.
In the evening before my mother's funeral, I had my house filled with the presence of loved people who travelled from different places around the world to be with my family and me during this time. We collectively made more masks and gowns made by Robin Harvey for Ania's coffin procession the day after.
Thank you to Lina Jungergard, Raissa Kasalowski, Tatjana Nekrasov, Christelle Lafille, Marta Angelozzi, and Hannah Simons to help me carry my mother's coffin. Andreas Constantinou for being there with me while spending the last few moments with my mother's deceased body and following the coffin in a cab. Poetic Endings, Sophie Duval, my daughter Matilda, Mia and my mum's husband Marek for their input and support me shape the funeral in the way I wanted. Everyone who attended my Mum's funeral ceremony. My cousin Radek Sosnowski and my daughter Matilda witness Ania's cremation with me.
'Wash Me'-Hungry for Human Contact Live
Live Art Performance
Wash Me is a live art performance that brings together selected Tinder chats that took place during lockdown from The Hungry for Human Contact Archive commissioned by ProCreate. The Hungry for Human Contact Project was initiated after a dream that Corona the virus was a female vampire that came to bring revenge upon humanity. This performance fuses dirty tinder chats with a video projection of flooding, earthquakes and drought revealed on Corona's naked body from under her thick, black coat. The performance ends with an audience's participatory ritual of washing Corona's body.
'They told us we could not stop. We could not change. Until, for a short moment of time, we could hear the different variety of birds sing at dawn in the city jungle when the traffic had stopped.'
The homeless garden
Live Art Performance
The Genderhouse Festival, Denmark 2018
Chisenhale Dance Space 2018, hARTslane Gallery 2022
The Homeless Garden explores visual and aural composition in performance through symbolic action, text and a participatory ritual. Inspired by Kollontai’s writing ‘Working Woman and Mother’ the audience reads testimonies from various perspectives on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, while Bilon births soil from under her gown. Eventually, a garden is created. The audience plant flowers and water them while Bilon facilitates a discussion about the art of care and the importance of pleasure.
“The multilayered symbolism is both profound and raw” ... “a very meaningful and edgy piece of work” ... “beyond acting, a completely immersive experience” ...... “performance was astonishing, extremely arresting and very emotionally and spiritually charged...”
Thanks to The Genderhouse Festival, hARTslane Gallery and Chisenhale Dance Space for their kind support.
Eat Your Beans
Live Art Performance Interventions
Leyden Gallery (Desperate Artwifes), Hartslane Gallery (Horse Donkey Club), Hackney Project Space, (GraceGraceGrace)TrinityLABAN(Himherandit Production)
Wells Way(Theatre Deli)
Eat your Beans- Live Art and Video Performance Project aims to provoke standards of female beauty, the male gaze and interaction with the audience while exploring the physicality of rage, crashing plates and other kitchen utensils on the floor and shouting eat your beans. The purpose of this body of work is to shed awareness of unrecognised labour within society and give space to express the repressed rage of mothers and carers that is often not spoken about.
Various interventions and provocations have been performed in art spaces, as well as public spaces such as streets, traffic lights, buses, and supermarkets.