Public Self-Care by Rhiannon Armstrong

August 21, 2017

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Rhiannon Armstrong (www.rhiannonarmstrong.net) is a performance artist, who recently facilitated public self-care experiences for participants at the Dublin Live Art Festival, 2017.

“After three years of being invisibly disabled with chronic migraine – a condition that forced Rhiannon to wear sunglasses indoors, or lie down in the street, Public Selfcare System is a work in which Rhiannon self-identifies as an expert at the durational performance of thriving in a world that is geared against her survival. Public Selfcare System is a one-to-one performance, part direct action, part masterclass in the radical act of stopping.” (Dublin Live Art Festival 2017, Public Selfcare System Information Flyer)

“I am an expert in resting in public thanks to a neurological condition that forces me to lie down wherever I happen to be, and stay there until I am well enough to get up again. In order to carry on living we may all have to learn to stop in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day, and rest. Get ahead of the curve, get your training in now.” (Rhiannon Armstrong)

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Photo: http://www.rhiannonarmstrong.net

Taking time to stop and lie down on the stone pavement of a public thoroughfare, an interlude of rejuvenation for myself and participants in the performance of Public Selfcare. Each person is held with reassuring words and the touch of Rhiannon’s hand. The public element is forgotten within the space of two people being together on the ground, equals taking a breather from activity. This is a performance of empathy, solidarity and companionship. The simplicity of a time-out amidst the activeness of daily life. The art of just being there, together and then alone within the occupation of space and self. A performance of responsibility, a gift to passersby who see what’s not happening, who are perhaps reminded to approach the stillness within themselves. What I take lying down is confirmation of my right to be inattentive.

“Come with me to a place you may have seen, walked past, but never been to. We are going to lie down and have a rest: I will look out for you and look after you. You have right to be here, you have a right to do this. We can do it together.” (Rhiannon Armstrong)

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Photo: www.rhiannonarmstrong.net

dublin live art festival

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