The Threshold Festival of Music and Arts takes place 1-3 April 2016 in Liverpool’s Baltic area.
Over the next few days we are featuring just a few of the many visual artists taking part. First up is Douglas McCormick.
Featured Threshold Artists #1
Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith for Art in Liverpool
Douglas McCormick is a very specific addition to this year’s Threshold Festival, with a practice that could allow him to take the theme of Alchemy in any direction. His practice is dance, and this isn’t his first time pushing that medium to its limits for Threshold. So far Threshold have announced six artists for their programme, and McCormick is the only one with the honour of being invited back. So before anything else is written, that should be taken into account. Whatever he did last year clearly made an impression. Surely that can only grow a second time around.
“There were times when pop-up performances would take you by surprise or you’d be at a music venue and there’d be the appearance of belly dance mixed with some heavier live music.” Clearly McCormick’s experience of last year was a positive one, but more than that it seems to sum up a public experience of the festival too. The mixed cultural genres merging into one weekend of confused excitement are what keeps getting mentioned, by artists and the public when I ask them about last year.
The restraints of performing as a dance artist, mean that you’ll have to double check the specific times of his performances over the weekend, but last year worked in the same way. His shows were performed around the festival between music slots, including opening InkBeat* on Friday – a venue he’ll be returning to in April. And if you’re at all worried about the similarities his presence on the line-up might pose to last year, don’t be. Last year McCormick was finding his feet as a 3rd year student wanting to make his mark on Liverpool. A lot can change in a year.
Once you find your feet as an artist, everything tends to change. It’s an unavoidable reality, and that seems to be the same for dance. This year, this now confident artist, has found his feet and is building on his existing performance to create what sounds a lot like a living installation. He described it as:
“Working with transformative materials, […] exploring movement, visuals and playful investigation with 7 other dancers in the hope to create a dynamic and organic durational performance. We will be performing and layering over the course of 1-2 hours and then leaving the space open as a transformed art space […] then repeat this cycle over the day and festival.”
And whether he likes it or not, Alchemy Visual Arts have labelled him a Visual and Performance artist, which is an exciting title when you consider the connotations. It could go one of a few ways. Either, McCormick could himself be the visual art, producing living responses to architecture, space, environment, etc. which through performance. Or, he could be generating the visual art through a process of performance – a process that often leads to incredible audience responses that open up new understandings of creative process. Or, his performance takes a relationship from an already designed space – riffing off installations.
Whatever happens, it is an incredibly inquisitive addition to Alchemy, as an artist who has developed from a specific and relative point last year brings his very unique responses to a whole new brief. You can see Douglas McCormick at 24 Kitchen Street and InkBeat* at set times throughout the weekend, and possibly even stumble across some in the streets of the Baltic Triangle as he performs intermittently over the festival.
Threshold Festival is a UK grassroots multi-arts event held in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle focusing on emerging artists, new work/ first views, collaboration, DIY, first view, avant garde and community based projects encompassing music, theatre, film, performance and visual arts.