20 Questions….. Peader Kirk

Continuing the series on creativity and practice… The same questions are asked to directors, writers, burlesque performers, poets, live artists, performers, sculptors, novelists and other interesting makers and the individual engages as little or as much as s/he chooses.

The wonderful Peader Kirk answers 20 Questions…

get-attachment.aspxPeader Kirk is an artist and mentor working across Europe. Individually he creates sound art, collectively with Mkultra he creates large-scale walk through performance installations and as a director he collaborates with other artists particularly in the field of hip hop theatre. Peader’s collaboration with spoken word artist, Simon Mole, can be seen at London’s South Bank Centre in October and his collaboration with physical theatre maker Ian Morgan opens in Hong Kong in 2014.



What drew you to your practice?

The area behind Kings Cross Station has now become The University of the Arts, gentrified, beautified, corralled. In the early 90s the land behind the station was dotted with squats and warehouses and at the end of Battlebridge Road The Mutoid Waste Company set up base.

What I remember is walking through a door to find myself standing under a giant spider made out of the chassis of an old VW Beetle and scaffolding bars, finding little performance actions happening in shacks that were caravan/container/ spaceship hybrids and a band in the main space that played metal grinders as instruments.

An environment focused on creating an experience for its participants and walking through that door meant you had become a participant. There was no division between doer and watcher, between stage and auditorium, or where these any of appeared they were as quickly overturned. Here was something that was performance, music, installation, social experiment and cultural irritant all at once.


My memory is, of course, romanticising the past but that impulse to create event/encounter has remained a touchstone for the work.

 What was your breakthrough moment?

In 2001 Mkultra made our first twenty-four hour piece, Left Long. It was based on Brian Eno’s Generative Music structure – take a loop of music two minutes long and set it playing against a loop of three minutes duration and another of five. You get a unique composition generated by the system not the composer that lasts 30 minutes (2x3x5) before it returns to unity and begins to repeat. We took this structure but instead of music loops we created task/action scores for four performers – Fabienne Biever, Taylan Halici, Ian Morgan and Juliet Prague.  Each loop lasted a specific duration (shortest 2ish mins and longest 8ish mins) and were calculated so that they only returned to unity exactly 24 hours after we began. As an audience you watched the same thing again and again – the performer’s score – but never saw the same thing twice – since the actions were always in a different combination.

There were no reviews, we didn’t get any gigs out of it and the fee was £200 between 6 of us but this piece let us find a bridge between structure, duration and investment – which seems more key for us than form/content.

But the real breakthrough was the little moments that broke the frame of the performance. Juliet saying at 4a.m. that whet she felt was really needed was a glass of champagne and two of the audience disappearing to return 40 minutes later with two bottles for the audience and performers, god knows where they found the bottles on the Old Kent road at that time in the morning. Taylan again and again trying to make a statement that could inspire people and the audience arranging their own show of hands so he knew if he was getting there. The guy who stayed for the last ten hours to make sure somebody was there to let Ian in through the door at the beginning of each loop of his score since the other performers were now too tired to notice his attempts every time. Left Long was the first time we created a social space through the creation of a performance.

The most challenging aspect of your practice?

Making something that exists in the world, which has a function beyond the culturescape.

 Which work of art changed you?


Simple, rigorous and makes you experience your own experiencing. The work is inside you not in the room but without what is in the room it doesn’t happen.

 Form or content?

See ‘Breakthrough’ question.

 How do you know when a piece of work is finished?

I got to be Lepage’s trainee early on and went to visit him in Paris for the final performance of ‘Dragon’s Trilogy’ after it had been touring for five years. He was in the rehearsal room making some changes to the show. It was still being performed so it wasn’t finished.

 Advice to young practitioners?

Make work. Make more work. Keep going.

What work of art would you like to own?

It is affordable, beautiful, exists between product/process and is available to all. Now you know what to get me for Christmas.


online version here  http://oblicard.com/

What is the biggest myth about the creative process?

That it is fun when you are doing it. If you are lucky, it is fun when you look back though.

What are you working on now?

Without quite meaning it to be the case there often seems to be a theme that appears through a whole series of pieces and Haunting seems to be running through the work at present. Ghosts are there in the new piece I am developing with Simon Mole – http://www.simonmole.com/no-more-worries-qa/ – and in the Mkultra piece we are working on for later next year that tells the history of recorded sound while trying to contact the spirit world live on stage through the medium of EVPs- http://touchshop.org/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=55

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

That culture in England is a reproduction of the class system rather than a challenge to it.

Greatest ambition?

Make work. Make more work. Keep going.

How do you tackle a lack of confidence?

Perhaps the question might be…

Who has access to confidence – to the confidence to make art?

Artists are part of the precariat yet we also know that very often artists come from a privileged background – how else could many of them survive as the precariat?

Perhaps the question might be…

How do we defend that space for young artists that don’t emerge from privilege (of capital or education or class) to be able to take that leap of confidence and make work?

Worst thing said about your work?

‘Irresponsible, untheatrical and chaotic.’ London Evening Standard

Or perhaps that was the best thing said about the work or perhaps that was the audience member who said “I am really confused. I felt all these things but I don’t understand how you made me feel them. Something just happened to me”


Thanks for taking the time to read this




If you want to agree/disagree/dialogue I am on peader@mkultra.org.uk

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