Saturday 16 February 2008

Mamuska Night, Limerick

There was a gorgeous event last night in Daghdha Dance Space in Limerick city, called Mamuska. Apparently it's been happening there on a bi-monthly basis since last year, and it's a breath of fresh air on the Irish arts scene. I've been part of events of this sort before in different cities, and it's just so great to see one really working very well. The Daghdha space itself is amazing: housed in an old church up in St. John's square, surrounded by a graveyard, with apparently little changed except that they removed all the old fixtures and fittings of pews and altars and baptismal fonts and that kind of thing, and laid down a dancefloor.

Daghdha is a dance company and some kind of a powerhouse of ideas and collaborative activity pulling in all sorts of disciplines and artists from all over the world, and one of their spinoffs is Mamuska. The idea of Mamuska is to make a space every couple of months for people to socialise, for artists to air their sketches, ideas in progress and imperfections, and to keep the airways open for something magical and spontaneous to emerge, should the need arise. That's how I felt there, anyway, and it felt open and friendly and unpreoccupied with itself in a way that was incredibly refreshing for the Limerick, or just about any other arts scene.

There were installations, including a tent with a video piece inside it, a plinth with rows of buns stacked on top of it (for the purpose of eating) and video of bun making and bun arranging beside it, sofas, open seating, a bar, a large video screen that showed projected video and photographs, performance, sound scapes, and a small piece of theatre. I left a bit early, so I didn't catch the last couple of things. No piece was longer than 10 minutes, and everything had an unfinished, loose and open kind of feel to it. I wandered around, taking pictures on my laptop, and chatting to various people around the room. I found it really friendly and fun.

It reminded me a lot of the church on Møllegade, in Copenhagen, and the Meet Da Lama nights that Helle Thun used to run over there, on a total shoestring budget (quite unlike the budgets that Daghdha have at their disposal) and a lot of love and passion for exploration and improv. Each Meet Da Lama was an experiment without any firm conclusions, but it drew a lot of people, and for me, the combination of an open event of lots of artists of various disciplines that welcomed on the spot participation, and hugely importantly, that it took place in English, was about the friendliest hook-up I found in Copenhagen. Ultimately something like that needs more of an infrastructural grounding than Helle could possibly provide on her own, and so it burned itself out at some point of 2005, I think, but it was great to see the spirit of that alive and well in Limerick city last night.

Here are some pics from the event...

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