Mel O’Callaghan
Dangerous on-the-way
Palais de Tokyo
Curator : Daria de Beauvais
03.02.2017 – 08.05.2017


« Observation was key. I was conscious of travelling there with no preconceived notions of their people and practices and of what I might achieve. I had no interest in approaching this with an ethnocentric focus. I was not there to tell their story. I was simply fascinated to witness a ritual as a form of artistic practice that appeared in some ways to mirror my own. » Mel O’Callaghan

 Mel O’Callaghan – whose work could be discovered during the Nuit Blanche 2016 (under the artistic direction of Palais de Tokyo) and at Palais de Tokyo during the festival DO DISTURB 2, in April 2016, is here continuing her reflections about ritual as a form of expression of the human condition, and the processes of self-transformation which emerge from the tireless repetition of the same actions.

For her solo show at Palais de Tokyo, Mel O’Callaghan went to North East Borneo so as to attend the traditional harvesting of birds’ nests, a particularly dangerous ritual, performed twice a year by the Orang Sungai people, at a height of over 120 meters – going up to the summit of Simud Putih, or the “white cave” of Gomantong. Combining sculpture, performance and video, Dangerous on-the-way focuses more specifically on the ekstasis this ritual induces, that physical and mental state described in Greek philosophy as being “outside oneself”.

 « For Mel O’Callaghan, the body is a tool which allows us to understand the world in general, and art in particular. » Daria de Beauvais