VIENNA Live: Exercises For Seeing Stars #3 By Ella De Burca

On the 23rd September the very talented Russian actress Galina Shimanskaya began performing the second performance in the series ‘Exercises for seeing Stars’ by Irish artist Ella de Burca. In this series, the artist negotiates with an actor to recite a piece of prose written by the artist specially for each occasion. The only catch is that the actor must perform while holding a handstand.


The text describes de Burca’s first encounter with a particular art performance, remembering her first experience of a work. However, as the actress can only be upside-down while recalling the text, the duration of this memory is limited to the strength of her physical body in the present.

Exercises for seeing Stars #2 is held daily within the framework of Playing Nature, an international exhibition within the special program of the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. We are honored to mention the presence and the interest of the Irish Ambassador Eoin O’Leary and his wife Anne at this first performance in Moscow.

Every day Galina Shimanskaya challenges gravity at Moscow’s SOKOL Center of Contemporary Art. As Galina performs in Moscow, on the 12th of October, every hour in Vienna Irish actress Jill Harding will perform “Exercises for Seeing Stars #3” at VIENNAFAIR 2013.

Ella de Burca aims create a dialogue between the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary. A book about both performances will be available in January.


Exercises for Seeing Stars #2 is kindly supported by Culture Ireland and Fingal County Council.

Check out the text for Exercises for seeing Stars #2:

RELAX. It was in a theatre, in Brussels. On a sunday RELAX. We’d missed the last train to Antwerp the night before and had to stay out all night LAX as a last resort. RELAX And as we made our way to the early morning offering we got lost in a coffee coloured cityscape and almost, LAX, missed the performance. Arriving to RELAX. I shook into my seat, RELAX 5th row from the back, near the aisle. LAX. so I could run to the toilet if needed. RELAX. arms vibrating, feeling the burn of effort as it started. And then RELAX. LAX. RELAX He was smaller than I imagined. 

Hearing his RELAX breath breathe in the microphone, it began. LAX. This wasn’t no actor, this was him! RELAX. In the life, real! A real person! LAX He’d been everywhere, and I’d been nowhere and here we were in the same place, RELAX In the same time! LAX Him performing and me.. well. RELAXing. breathing. watching. listening to LAX a performance of RELAX. Shake shake, is that the ground moving or is this me? LAX. 

I want to touch him. RELAX. I want to touch that man on the stage I know so well through books LAX. through words RELAX through… LAX 

I definitely don’t want to RELAX. So many aisles, so many rows away from me, RELAX. My breathing started to sync with the amplified… LAX, oh my hands. RELAX. Am I holding you up? LAX Little itchy lacking hands. Breathe. RELAX. Breathe into it. 

Sucking in air as my head went back to RELAX, the woman’s LAX and his RELAX echoing in my hung over skull. LAX His body so still, his RELAX presence so… so relaxed. I closed my eyes and listened to the LAX. RELAX. LAX. Everything felt flat. RELAX. Flat and black in this dark empty space with nothing but shaking arms and itchy hands and LAX. No gravity, no air, no RELAX, just vacuum. Just lack. LAX. I see white but thats only the ground. Oh my hands. RELAX they can’t LAX! How has it come to this? How did I get here? RELAX I feel my voice going deeper. Matching her LAX. Or his RELAX. 

I tried to imagine their presence in the blackness. LAX His RELAX seemed to come from one corner of my darkened vision. LAX. That one, over there. RELAX. I’d point but I, well, I’m… Her LAX came from the opposite place to where he was. Not in a physical way RELAX but in the way that up and down aren’t actual places. LAX. up. RELAX down, but up and down in perfect flatness? LAX oh my bones, relax bones. RELAX. Some time passed. LAX. And slowing, these simple flat words, RELAX.LAX.RELAX flat sounds came flapping at me, like pages! RELAX axe axe axe axe axe LAX faster than light RELAXLAX slowly forcing its power, flicking its rhythm down into… RELAX. Holding its front, so strong with the LAX. Inside me, burning my being, until I couldn’t stand it any longer and my arms started to RELAX. Oh I’m sinking. Voices everywhere and yet no one, LAX everyone lacking presence except for the RELAX lots of black holes sitting in rows, LAX darkness and knowledge together RELAX and his body was performing through LAX standing still, but not present, that’s not him, but his RELAX LAX RELAX but his voice was in me, all over me with LAX. RELAX. LAX. I was struggling in my place, this epic RELAX pumping into my brain like nothing before. Nothing but LAX. My adrenaline fueled awe of being at RELAX LAX on a Sunday morning RELAX  coming down hard LAX this moment, going up RELAX this LAX, just taking some… RELAX LAX RELAX LAX RELAX


Katia Krupennikova, curator

Exercises for Seeing Stars #3

Ella De Burca

Time: October 12, 2013, at the beginning of every hour from 11:00 am on

Location: VIENNA Live area

One thought on “VIENNA Live: Exercises For Seeing Stars #3 By Ella De Burca

  1. Pingback: Program Saturday, October 12 | The New Contemporary

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