Aaron Williamson, Art De-LIVE-Ries in Lockdown. Composite image courtesy of the artist, 2021
At the height of the ‘delivery economy’, Aaron Williamson created a series of short live performances and delivered them to people’s doorsteps around Oxford, where he lives. The seven unique works, reflecting current events during lockdown, were spontaneously devised and delivered, one a day, in late March 2021.
Darkly humorous, these included: a cheerleader sporting an ‘NHS’ logoed tabard delivering a clapping routine; a military guard in combat fatigues waving a large Union Jack embroidered with the words ‘Shag the Flag’; a riot police officer in a chimp mask and knife-proof vest declaring ‘Protest and Survive’; a bonneted regency maid servant wearing a doll’s house and banging a pan; a soldier dressed in a ghillie suit made from shredded tabloid newspapers army-crawling the garden path. . .
Williamson invited the selected recipients to film each five-minute long De-LIVE-Ry performance on their smartphones. At the conclusion of each, the artist presented the recipient with a souvenir lockdown key and keyring, collected a signature of receipt, and left for home immediately to resume his own period of isolation. Artist Kate Mahony also attended the deliveries and filmed the performances, eventually combining the shared footage into a short film Doorstep Art De-LIVE-Ries in Lockdown.
The completed film represents Williamson’s reflection on certain aspects of Live Art’s ‘Histories’; in particular, the flexibility and artistic freedom afforded to make spontaneous, lo-fi DIY works that are circumstantially responsive, ephemeral and presented as intimate encounters.
Over the last twenty years Aaron Williamson has created over 300 performances, videos, installations and publications in Britain, Europe, Japan, China, Australia, Scandinavia, USA, South America, Canada and many other countries around the world.
He has a PhD in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex (1997), and has published widely, including a monograph for the Live Art Development Agency ‘Performance / Video / Collaboration’ (2007). Awards as an artist include the Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the British School at Rome (2000 – 01); Three-Year AHRC Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at BIAD, University of Central England, (2004 – 07); and the Stephen Cripps Studio Bursary, Acme Studios (2013 – 14).
Williamson’s work is informed by his experience of becoming deaf and by a politicised and progressive sensibility towards disability. At a University of California San Diego lecture in 1998, he coined the term ‘Deaf Gain’ as a counter-emphasis to ‘hearing loss’.
A retrospective of Williamson’s performance documentation and short films; his work with the Disabled Avant Garde and 15mm Films was exhibited at the Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, May – June 2019, alongside a large-scale commissioned installation work ‘Inspiration Archives’
He is currently a Research fellow in Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University.