© Alan O'Cain
(thanks for dropping in)
As part of my 2012-2013 residency at Ustinov College, Durham University I am working on a painted frieze comprising a triptych of works based on the classical story of Ariadne, referencing many mythical elements including the Minotaur, the labyrinth, Ariadne's abandonment on Naxos by Theseus and the fall of Icarus. The frieze will also pay homage to the opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" by Richard Strauss, and Edvard Munch's "Frieze of Life".
Munch's frieze is largely set on the Norwegian coastline and my frieze will mirror that concept by making allusion to the Durham coastline at Seaham. Opera singer Sir Thomas Allen, who is Durham University's new Chancellor, and who sings in "Ariadne auf Naxos" at Glyndebourne this summer, grew up in the town of Seaham Harbour. My triptych will be eight metres wide and become a landmark work in Fisher House at Ustinov College.
During 2013 I will be working with composer and cellist Mark Carroll on a new project entitled "Decomposition". This work will involve painted portraiture, original composition, stop-motion film projection and anarchic abstraction. We are researching inspiring venues in which to create this work and venues in which to show the finished piece. More details will be revealed later this year.
Mark recently worked with me on a presentation of "Pathos and Punishment" a performance of all twenty-four of my "Hunting Schiele" poems with projections of the twenty-four drawings I created in Schiele's former prison cell to Mark's improvised cello. A recording of this event will be available online soon. Mark will also create music this year for a proposed public performance of "Opera of Blood" (see below).
Thanks to the enthusiasm of many individuals, a special performance of my 52-poem verse sequence based on Seventeenth Century Hungarian mass-murderess Elizabeth Bathory ("The Blood Countess") is planned to take place in Durham this June. The complete sequence can be read on this website. The performance will feature recitation, video projection, dance to spoken word, original music composition, found industrial sound, a "shouting choir" and lighting effects. Audience members should prepare for puzzlement, surprise, confrontation and discomfort.
This long-term project involves the creation of a portrait series inspired by an ongoing letter exchange with US-based, British former businessman and art collector Phillip Bennett, convicted of securities fraud in 2008, and now serving a 16-year sentence in New York's Fort Dix prison. Each four-foot square work will be based on a single photograph of Phil and his wife Val taken whilst Phil was under house arrest pending trial. I will continue adding artworks to this series until his release. (Major first triptych completed - exhibition projected.)
Sex, death, apocalypse, fashion. This project (currently under wraps, but targeted for Spring 2016) involves an international multi-genre concept crossing boundaries between art, politics and commercialism. I will be working in the coming months to begin making this vision a reality.
A second confidential project involves sculptures I will be calling "autefacts". More on this at a later time.
Also for 2016 I aim to develop a glass-tiled wall containing the complete text (365 tiles) from my 1976 "Scribbling Diary". This diary, a sole record from my boyhood years, chronicles with spectacular tedium the ennui of mid-teen, mid-70s Sunderland life. I choose glass for its Sunderland heritage, and hope this glorious homage to schoolday drudgery can be permanently installed in the city.