Now it seems obvious. The clue was in the name all along. But none of us who were present at any of the Wormholes performances of the 1990s really grasped the full scope of their conceptual project. We assumed that their ramshackle semi-improvised live actions were of their time and of their time only. We assumed that when they disappeared in 1999 we might not see them again. We assumed that their work would probably live on only through memory, folklore, and sporadic documentation. We assumed also that the event announced for December 12 2014, to mark the end of the Joinery, was a mere reenactment, a restaging of an iconic Wormholes performance, albeit one staged by the original performers.
The usual questions stirred in our minds about the validity of such practices. Does performance only exist in the present? If so, is it possible to recreate a present that is now long past? Can experiences and meaning be transported through time? How will the new context affect the reception of the work on the part of the audience? What new light will be shed on the Wormholes’ practice by this spatial and temporal dislocation?
But when they pick up their instruments and launch into the opening chords of ‘Marshmellow’, all of these questions are suddenly made redundant. The Wormholes did not go away for fifteen years at all, and we have not been waiting for them to come back. They have always been already here, waiting for us. This wasn’t a reenactment of the past. This was the past. This is the future. How they found the tunnel through spacetime now seems irrelevant. What’s important is that from the start, they knew it was there. Now we know too. Or perhaps we always did.
This text was written at the invitation of the Paper Visual Art journal and was published as one of a number of PVA tickets that were created to mark the end of the Joinery art and performance space in December 2013. PVA tickets are short reviews and pieces of creative writing that are printed and distributed around art galleries and other venues around Dublin. This is number 10 in the series. Thanks to Niamh Dunphy for inviting me to write one and for going with my suggestion of writing about a band as opposed to an art exhibition. Thanks to Paul Shanahan for the photograph.