DIY9 Workshop: Live Art Therapy


Every summer Live Art Development Agency offers the opportunity for artists to take part in unusual training and professional development projects conceived and run by artists for artists. This July I had the opportunity to run one of them! In collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices festival I offered a 2-day workshop in the idyllic location of Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, examining the relationship between live art and therapy.

The 6 participants were Kate Baird, Harriet Fleuriot, Scarlett Lassof, Alister Lownie, Lorena Rivero de Beer and Lena Simic. Together we looked to performance for solutions to personal problems while also debating the relevance of therapy as a creative goal. Participants were each asked to choose one particular issue to focus on and together we attempted to generate ways to combat it by looking to the work of other live artists as well as our own arsenal of actions as creative people. Some of us tried to find resolution; others resisted the limitations of existing definitions of therapy and the very notion of ‘before’ and ‘after’. On the final day of the workshop my mother Angela Monti Fox, who is a trained psychotherapist, provided her professional therapeutic perspective via individual, 30-minute skype sessions with each artist.

Day 1
We drew pictures that represented our identities. We talked about where we were coming from as well as our expectations and hopes. In pairs we experimented with phototherapy techniques, taking turns playing the photographer/therapist and the subject/client. We shared our images, a meal and a room in a hostel.

Day 2
We did performance lectures incorporating the images taken the day before. We got feedback and more ideas for how to progress these works and/or solve/address our problems. Several of us contested the idea that we needed to change. We each had a one-to-one psychotherapy session over skype. We went on a silent walk in the forest and tried out some primal scream therapy.

To find out more, please read my follow-up report.


BEFORE: Harriet didn’t know what to do.
AFTER: Harriet took an uncertain leap.
BEFORE: Alister was in touch with his sensitive side.
AFTER: Alister got acquainted with his inner man-dog.
BEFORE: Scarlett hid her problems in the closet.
(She wished she could free herself from them entirely.)
AFTER: Scarlett learned to bring her problems out in the open and they all shared a lovely spot of tea.
This is Lena before: What’s the issue? What’s the problem? She is unsure about crossing the bridge. Bridge is a metaphor, can you get onto the other side, all that…
This is Lena after. Has ‘the after’ been achieved? No, we are still in those moments we skipped. We haven’t arrived at the moment after, the after.
Lorena performing the animal, roaring.
Lorena being the animal, listening.