Andre Stitt and Tara Babel
The Deed - Akshun for Derry' (1980)
60cm x 43cm
Courtesy of the Akshun Archive, Cardiff.
Andre Stitt worked as a performance artist from 1976-2013, which gained him an international reputation for cutting edge, provocative and politically challenging work often relating to trauma and conflict with art as a redemptive proposition. During this period, he produced hundreds of ‘live’ performance and installation works at major museums, galleries and sites throughout the world. In 2008 he was awarded a major Arts Council Creative Wales Award to develop his painting practice and has since changed his art practice to painting. His last performance was in Belfast in 2013. He is currently Professor of Performance and Interdisciplinary Art at Cardiff School of Art, Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Tara Babel worked as a photographer and performance artist from 1979-2001. Babel gained an international reputation for work located in ideas of codified female identity often challenging attitudes to mental illness and domestic and sectarian violence. During this period her work was presented throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. Since then, she has worked as a human rights activist and was the director of the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation (MOJO) from 2019-2021.
Stitt and Babel were commissioned by The Orchard Gallery in Derry/Londonderry to produce a performance artwork in 1980. Rather than make a work at the gallery the artists chose to create a series of street interventions throughout Northern Ireland and London where they were newly based. As with many of their early collaborations the performances known as ‘akshuns’ were clandestine and made for camera. For Stitt and Babel these works were a reaction to state sanctioned repression, control, torture and violence with the human body revealed as the disempowered object of surveillance. The artists were interested in the idea of reportage with the photo as a document alluding to lost lives and the traces of colonised identity. Two images from the performances were eventually published by the Orchard Gallery as poster works; This piece, entitled The Deed - Akshun for Derry and Warzone Exiles which is what the artists had become through the necessity of having to leave their homeland due to the civil conflict in Northern Ireland.