Martin O'Brien



Martin's work considers existence with a severe chronic illness within our contemporary situation. Martin has cystic fibrosis and his practice uses physical endurance, hardship and pain based practices to challenge common representations of illness and examine what it means to be born with a life threatening disease. His work is an act of resistance to illness, an attempt at claiming agency and a celebration of his body. Martin loves his body and his work is a form of sufferance in order to survive.

Martin has been commissioned and funded by the Live Art Development Agency, Arts Council England, Arts Catalyst, Midlands Art Centre, and the British Council. He has presented work in Britain, Europe, Canada and the USA including SPILL Festival of Performance (London), Chelsea Theatre, Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana), In Between Time Festival of Performance (Bristol), Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff), Grace Exhibition Space (New York), Abrons Art Center (New York), Gallery Art Claims Impulse (Berlin), Edinburgh Festival, The Basement (Brighton), LAX Studio (Los Angeles), Midlands Art Centre (Birmingham), Performatorium Queer Festival of Performance.

He was artist in residence at ]performance s p a c e[, London from January- June 2012 and has often collaborated with the legendary performance artist Sheree Rose. He was artist in residence at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, LA, in 2015. He curated the ground breaking symposium ‘Illness and the Enduring Body’ in 2012. Martin received a PhD from the University of Reading and his work has received critical attention in publications such as Contemporary Theatre Review and the book ‘Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability’. He co-edited, with Gianna Bouchard, a special edition of the journal Performance Research ‘On Medicine’ and is a lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. The first book about his work was published in 2016 by the Live Art Development Agency.

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