Part 2:CUMULATOR 7 on 7th July 2016 at The Point. Groomsport,NI, UK (Siobhan Mullen Wolfe)


Siobhan Mullen Wolfe


Siobhan  Mullan emailed me the following:

Cumulator 7

Performance – 7 Artists

  • Time: 7 hours
  • Materials :Boiler suit, hand-crafted chair, potato peeler, aluminium bucket filled with raw coal and remains of burnt ash of financial records.
  • Actions: Continuous peeling of lumps of coal, walking to shoreline with bucket of coal balanced on head at intervals of approx 1/2 hour. Breathing with the rising tide.
  • Site: Ballymacormick point: ASSI, Intertidal communities, rare communities and species, breeding colony for Arctic Tern.
  • Sightline: Kilroot Power Station, Antrim basalt escarpment (eocene period), Belfast Lough, peripheral vision of the actions of 6 fellow artists.


The performance actions are site responsive, labour intensive, transitive by encounter, exploring value systems, labour practices and models of power.

3 days later, I wake to excruciating pain in my neck and back – body responsive to the performance. My finely balanced frame has been knocked off its axis by the actions in the performance.


The co-existence of coal and ashes of financial records  inside an aluminium bucket  are both timely reminder of climate change and needs for sustainable energy, made particular  and site specific by the artist facing the sightline to the Kilroot power station that used coal in the past, is using gas at present, and, is slowly/hesitantly  moving to the sustainable renewables.

The performance was centred visually on the  physical, on eroding the body’s energy,  punishingly ending in pain.  The physical was allowed to lose.  Two of the images appear to me locking in themselves two important ideas:  something that is continuous and something that has ancestry.

The continuity of existence is treated as connectivity between the natural world and human species,  while not denying differences, insisting on similarities: the need to be in an environment that allows for future generations, be it people or Arctic Tern. (image courtesy:


Sharing her breathing with the sea waves Mullan signifies belonging  to the same life supporting system as the bird. Her silent, nonintrusive performance exudes respect for the area she works in.  As Naomi Klein warned – the need for fossil fuels sacrifice the area were it is found. The industry is damaging  to the  environment that already supports life, advancing  the belief that fossil fuels are necessary for supporting life.  Indeed,the 20th C Western culture  established that  so swell, that many people believe it is  inevitable.

Mullan looks back  for how to be an ancestor- to tribal societies- she uses as a token, the link to the mode of carrying a load on their heads.


She looks in the direction of the power station – holding the coal and ashes of the money documents -not advancing just accusing quietly – or questioning ?… or holding it back ?H Naomi Klein  asks that we become “good ancestors” by making sure that fossil deposits are left in the ground for the future generation’s use, which could be better than just burning them as we do.

Mullen highlights two strategies:  become a good ancestor and seek alternative sources of sustainable energy.

Hers is not a shortsighted  campaign – it is a moral decision.  Her performance insists on sharing, caring and practical wisdom. Even if she includes  dadaist disregard for protecting herself against damp and cold and the sheer fatigue of the ongoing labour.

She leaves no physical traces  of her being there, working there. The environment was not hurt or degraded.

A symbolist poet of the early 20th C  spoke of trees  as brotherhoods kneeling to pray for the future. Watching Mullan’s performance made me focus on the ambient peace surrounding her as  if saying something in unisono with her. Silently.


Images courtesy of Jordan Hutchings.






About Slavka Sverakova

writer on art
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Part 2:CUMULATOR 7 on 7th July 2016 at The Point. Groomsport,NI, UK (Siobhan Mullen Wolfe)

  1. James King says:

    Great! Thank you Slavka. James

    Sent from my iPad



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.