DriftMob, Hazard Festival of Intervention, Manchester 2014

G'day everyone,

Hope you're all well.

I had the great opportunity on the 12th of July to present some work at Hazard Festival up in Manchester. Produced by hÅb + The Larks, Harzard is a biennial micro-festival of incidental intervention and sited performance. Setting out to blur the boundaries between art and activism it unleashes a wave of bizarre behaviour on the city centre… random actions, strange antics, ludic activities and surprising sprees of eccentricity.

St Anns Square was treated to a splendid range of artists with some great experiences being let loose throughout the day. My first visit was to  the energetic glitter strewn Carboot Disco Bingo who got us all funked-up in the midday sun with some killer moves and bingo cards; prizes for a line, full house and for best dancing. I didn't win anything. Still, you should look out for them at festivals this summer.

Stephen Sheehan's Confrontration with Brick did exactly what it said on the tin with an impressive three minutes of aural assault directed towards a red clay brick in a form of brutal prayer meditation. Performed near a busy junction, Stephen stopped members of the public in their tracks and elicited some beautiful responses, some viewer clearly shocked others in fits of laughter. Those that gathered grew to 6 people deep and erupted into applause at the end of the confrontation, before the crowd and Stephen dissolved back into the street.

This is what I love about these types of events; the unexpected  Of course the artists springing their works unannounced onto the street provides the unexpected beaks of consumer commuter traffic flow, but I'm always amazed by the way the public chose become involved in these artworks. The willingness of people to stop their everyday plans and trajectories and involve themselves as spectator or participant is what really excites me with this way of working.

I brought my DriftMob game to Hazard. DriftMob is a street game which centres around the ideas of urban exploration and social creative agency. Similar to a Flash Mob, the games' actions and intentions shift and change as the role of leadership is passed from one participant to the next in an ongoing improvisation let loose upon the city. Each DriftMob generates a unique creative space and identity, producing a surprising challenge to accepted forms of social behaviour in public spaces as it moves through the urban meliu.

We played it twice in and around St Anns Square. The first saw a wet-hand-print collage of the floor which dissolved before us, a  mass air-guitar play along with one of Manchesters talented Buskers, We went inside at one point, sausage rolling our way through bank lobby.

Staff member: What are you Doing?

DriftMober: Searching for my pin number..

Quite possibly the best response imaginable from Stephen Sheehan.

The second DriftMob was a short sharp shock of a game, high energy, manic, fizz-banging its way through the street. We stopped to offer spare change and sweets to a man sitting quietly on a bench, a quick game of mime basket ball by the fountain.  At one point a young boy and his mother joined the group and took control; the site of 8 adults taking their lead from a 12 year old boy through the street is one of my favourite of points of the day. Although I do like the way the loose rules allow for unprompted unplanned actions and interventions, I'll be making a few tweaks to help the next DriftMobs build in moment steadily and avoid early exhaustion.  

I plan to run DriftMobs regularly in the South Wales so keep an eye on the Facebook group for details on when the next ones will be appearing.

Take it easy, Steve.


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Comment by Gavin Porter on July 24, 2014 at 15:01

yeah, just let me know when your in cardiff and we can meet up

Comment by Stephen Donnelly on July 23, 2014 at 16:53

Hi Gavin, It was great festival, lots of exciting work and artist and a response off the public. I'm off to work at Nozstock Festival  in Hereford until early August if you're about then?

Comment by Gavin Porter on July 23, 2014 at 13:31

Hi Stephen. I really wanted to get to this. It looked really interesting. If your ever in Cardiff I'd love to meet up and hear more?

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