Welcoming the Other: Beg, Borrow, Steal at Dilston Grove

by Cass Art

If you go down to Dilston Grove this Saturday, you’re in for a big surprise.

For it is here that all manner of degenerates, reprobates, dissidents and outsiders will make their sinewy ways out of dark corners, dingy spaces and grotesque gutters.

For this is Beg, Borrow, Steal, a day-long curated programme of performance art that will make you think about difference and the relationship between art and space.

The idea of the other has long pre-occupied artists and thinkers, whether through the deconstructive philosophy of Jacques Derrida, the writing of outsiders like Albert CamusFranz Kafka and Jean Genet, the work of artists like Francis Bacon and Tracey Emin.

Beg, Borrow, Steal (BBS) invites visitors to immerse themselves in the idea of the other, the idea of difference, to interfere with, and be occupied by, a series of thought-provoking works. This is live art, so every experience is different.

Beg, Borrow, Steal's immersive experience

Running Saturday August 31st at Dilston Grove in Southwark, BBS, now in its second year, asks its participants – both the artists themselves and the people interacting with it – some interesting questions.

Expect a number of shorter works alongside durational performances, including a lecture-performance combined with live, raw punk music, two separate films, both with an ephemeral presence in different areas of the building, a number of guest speakers talking on the subject of degeneracy throughout the day, one to one performances in the church organ loft and a hosted discussion about the future - to name just a few works happening.

Beg, Borrow, Steal

“It's a diverse mix but there are threads of interconnection throughout the works and many of the artists have collaborated following the last event,” says Laura Milnes, Beg, Borrow, Steal’s curator.

“The space in which BBS takes place, Dilston Grove, is a special place to me because as a deconsecrated church which is now an art space, it represents a sacred space that I feel welcome in as an atheist."

“It struck me that I could attempt to ‘reconsecrate’ this space for worship and contemplation by artists or anyone considered ‘other’ who identifies with the themes of the event.”

Featuring around 25 artists under one (very high!) roof, BBS channels the spirit of artists – think Georges Bataille, Antonin Artaud, Frida Kahlo, Oscar Wilde. And for Laura, the connection between audience and space is a crucial part of the BBS ethos.

“It is vital to me that the artists at BBS consider both space and audience. To me, you can't make an effective and communicative performance if you ignore either of these things,” Laura says.

“I chose Dilston Grove specifically because it is a space which I think poses interesting problems to an artist. It is huge, high ceilinged daunting and vast. It's difficult for an artist to put work into it because that work either fights with the awesomeness of the space and either ignores it or shouts louder somehow, or it is simply dwarfed by the beauty and uniqueness of the space.”

Beg, Borrow, Steal runs for just one day, in an unusual space, making it a different experience altogether from, say, a three-month exhibition in a formal space.

“There's only so much time in which to create a varying dynamic, so we've carefully constructed a journey through the works that can be joined at any point,” says Laura. “For example, some audience stay all day and some come and go. There's a different experience for everyone.”

Beg, Borrow, Steal is on Saturday August 31st, 2-8PM at CGP London Dilston Grove, Southwark Park, London, SE61 2DD. Free entry.

Beg, Borrow, StealWith thanks to Paul Williams for the exhibition images.

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